Housing boss responds to concerns over waiting lists in Harlow
General / Sun 31st Jul 2022 am31 08:36am
RECENTLY, we published a letter titled: “Why was my son taken off the housing list?
Below, is a response from the portfolio holder for housing, cllr Simon Carter.
Not enough houses, private or social, have been built in England and Wales in any year for more than thirty five years, which has led to the current housing crisis.
Harlow is not exempt from that situation. Thousands of homes were built in the 1950s and 1960s to ease overcrowding in north London. But large scale developments ended in 1980, over forty years ago, with the completion of Sumners. The next major development was Church Langley, most for owner occupation which was the norm by this stage, about twenty years ago. Now there is Newhall and Gilden Way, where there are housing association properties
With the decline of house building in Harlow, it was no longer appropriate to have a ‘waiting list’ as it gave rise to unrealistic expectations. Instead the council created a ‘Housing Needs Register’ where properties are allocated to those most in need, usually families with children. The process and priorities can be found at: https://www.harlow.gov.uk/housing-and-garages/council-housing/how-we-allocate-houses
Given the passage of time, and the focus on priorities, it was necessary to review the list. Some people will have made alternative arrangements, like getting married, or moved away with their job. If the council had not heard from someone for many years it was not unreasonable to remove their name from the register. The council does not have the resources to chase everyone and check for a response.
It is fair to say that few people now in Harlow can have the expectation of being allocated a council house, unless they fall into one of the priority categories. If you are already a tenant and looking to move, there are schemes to help you to do that. There are also incentives to encourage people to downsize and give up bedrooms, thereby creating some mobility for council tenants. Your Housing Officer is ready to help.
Not enough houses are being built, but Harlow Council is doing what it can to build more. People in genuine need, from Harlow, will be found accommodation and if required, supported into it.
Simon Carter (Cllr)
Portfolio Holder for Housing
With the rising cost of living and 40 to 50 % of the population in fuel poverty and more food banks than ever, it's surely time to build Council houses in large numbers again and house our sons and daughters and grandchildren rather than the rich fleeing London gobbling up green belt at Gilston with no homes for Harlow and recklessly wrecking the Stort Valley. Any Council or Government that continues on the current path and panders to rich foreign investors in housing, energy and infrastructure developments isnt serving the needs of the majority of the population and should go. No use shedding crocodile tears
Correction / addition: any government that is content to neglect the disadvantaged, is running the nhs into the ground and is incapable of meeting the needs of those who are in poverty or inadequately housed should go.
Unfortunately the present allocation system used by Harlow Council does not make best use of homes when they become vacant and little if any account is taken of how long an applicant has been waiting. As for the lack of resources to check if an applicant wishes to stay on the list, well that is really a poor state of affairs. A system should be put in place which automatically generates a letter to the applicant, for instance each year and a second letter sent if no response is received. Only then should an applicant be taken off the register.
First thing is to remove the stigma surrounding council housing--because you cannot afford to buy a home does not make you any less than those who can--our society and politicians have too long tolerated and furthered the "them and us" attitude--we are all the same after all, and everyone, irrespective of how much you can afford, deserves a decent home and standard of living. So sad that our society for many many generations judges people by their "class"--eutopia is possible if we all share and care for others and not judge on the issue that most have little compared to the few at the top who have nearly all the wealth. Our country and it's politicians have too long allowed this to be the status quo. For every private house built why can we not have the developers fund a council one--after all they are "laughing all the way to the bank" and local and national authorities enable them to do so.
I’ve offered to take an empty property from the council with the minimum 2 bedrooms I require and do all/ most of the work needed to bring it up to standard myself with either the supplies and materials or funds from the council but quickly was told no that can’t happen for what ever reason. The council/contractors are so slow to refurb/repair properties at the moment or so it seems, the last time I checked there was around 130 council properties empty that needed repairs or refurbishment.
I am not sure this is even lawful, applications made under Part 6 of the Housing Act (essentially applications for social housing rather than homelessness), are covered by the statutory review provisions in the legislation. Therefore, if you had previously been on the register and removed without you asking for this to happen, you’d need to be notified in writing and advised of the right of review.
Everyone regardless of income should be entitled to a Council home should they wish. Council homes should never be sold on the cheap to its tenants as they should be available for the future generations.
I do not necessarily disagree with many of the comments made. However, Harlow is a district of little over 10sq miles, with population over 90,000 and a very high de airy of population compared with other districts in Essex and Hertfordshire. Council houses are being built, but given the scarcity of Council owned land and the demand by so many to preserve our green areas and parks, in the end, new building will be finite. Council housing is based on need; it is not a right.
Harlow Council needs to buy more land and the government should provide the funding, however, whilst Tory Party is funded by property developers and Russian money "no chance." That's why it's ok for the Tories to promise / threaten a mini city with 132000 private homes but no Council housing. To have a home is a fundamental human right especially in the 5th richest country in the world but that's denied in favour of property developers lining their pockets.
We are 6th richest county and sliding. This is odd as our population in growing, which should be pushing our gdp up not down in relative term to our competitors. Personally I think this is due to global levelling up( global workers revolution of sorts)If you are at the top then the only way is down, and unfortunately this will impact the poorest in the top countries most. What surprises me most though is how all the parties of this country seem to be burying their heads in the sand about this, because sooner or later a breaking point will be reached and it won’t be pretty.
In my opinion,First thing first is sort out the number one priority of this town and that is the residents of Harlow who have been on the Harlow housing waiting list for ten years plus, before housing anyone from outside Harlow. Harlow homes for Harlow residents and not for those from outside of Harlow.
I agree a hundred per cent Daniel. People how ever have been on the so called list a lot longer than that. I say sort the people of thus town out first. But of course they won't, its a greed game with developers.