Camden Council throws 23,000 people off waiting list for council house

Camden Resists protest group demonstrate against Camden Council's newhousing policy, which will see

Camden Resists protest group demonstrate against Camden Council's newhousing policy, which will see 30,000 people kicked off the housing list. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

All 30,000 people on the waiting list for a council house in Camden will be forced to reapply as Camden Council tightens up criteria for who can get a home.

Last night, furious protesters gathered outside the town hall and heckled councillors from the public gallery during a cabinet meeting to approve the changes.

The decision means all 30,000 people currently on the waiting list for one of Camden’s council houses will have to update their application for a council house.

Of these, it is thought up to 23,000 people will be wiped off entirely and no longer be eligible to apply.

Those currently on the waiting list could also lose the “points” that they have accumulated over the years, which are used by the council to prioritise those most in need of housing.

Housing campaigner Grace Livingstone, a member of the Camden Resists protest group, said: “It’s terrible. The council have abandoned the basic principles of council housing, that it should be available for all.

“It will drastically reduce the number of people who can get on the list, and will impact the most on working families in Camden.”

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People who want a council home will now have to prove they have lived in the borough for at least five of the last seven years.

Those no longer eligible for a home also include those with financial assets or savings of more than £32,000.

The council will also make it much harder to apply for a new home because of overcrowding. It will count any rooms other than kitchens, utlity rooms, and bathrooms as potential bedrooms, including living and dining rooms.

But families with vulnerable and very young children will now be prioritised and moved up the waiting list, one of the few new rules welcomed by campaigners.

Green councillor Sian Berry, who supports the protesters, said: “There are single mums who are massively overcrowded and who are now going to lose all their points, and some might not even be able to rejoin the waiting list at all.”

Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Pat Callaghan, said: “The new allocation policy is not about saving money, it is about making our outdated system fairer and helping local people most in need to get a home at a time of affordable housing crisis in our borough.

“We only have 1,000 homes available for allocation each year and there are more than 30,000 on our waiting list.

“It is not possible to say by how many the waiting list will be reduced by as we will be contacting everyone on the list to ask them to update their applications.

“However as an example there are currently around 60 per cent of applicants on our waiting list of 30,000 who never bid and 6,000 people don’t even currently live in Camden.

“We have had more than 2,000 responses to our consultation on the changes and the new scheme will give higher priority to local people to foster sustainable communities and help to tackle child poverty by enabling families living in severely overcrowded conditions to find new homes.

“It will also strengthen provision for vulnerable adults, people with disabilities and carers.”

The changes will come into force in January.