Social tenants who need to move for work will no longer be pushed to the back of the housing waiting list, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (9 March 2015).
The government is pressing ahead with new regulations and statutory guidance to ensure town halls adopt a ‘Right to Move’ guarantee for all existing council or housing association tenants.
It means those tenants who land a new job or an apprenticeship opportunity in a different part of the country will no longer have to sacrifice their home for work.
Currently social tenants who need to relocate to take up a job or apprenticeship sometimes find it hard to secure a new social tenancy in a different local authority area as they will often be competing for housing with applicants classed as having a higher need.
The change follows a public consultation on the ‘Right to Move’ proposal, (launched on 10, September, 2014) which showed widespread support for the reform.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
Tenants who want to work hard and get on in life should be supported in their goal – not penalized for it.
Councils will now have to work to ensure social tenants are no longer forced to choose between their home or the chance of a new job which could transform their lives.
The Right to Move guarantee will mean existing tenants who need to move closer to work or who are offered employment in a new community can move on and move up – not find themselves back at square one on the housing waiting list.
Help for tenants moving for work
Since 2011, councils have had a range of powers and flexibilities to ensure they make the best possible use of their housing stock and that local people are clear how social housing in their area is allocated.
This includes strengthening the rules so councils use their new flexibilities to ensure local homes go to local people – by requiring that only those who have lived in the area for 2 years or more can put their name down on the waiting list.
But the government has made an exception for members of the armed forces to deliver on the commitment to ensure that those who have served their country should not be disadvantaged by the need to move from base to base, and can be helped onto the social housing waiting list wherever they need to live.
Today’s new ‘Right to Move’ regulations will ensure local connection requirements do not prevent social tenants from moving into the area to take up work or apprenticeship opportunities.
Social tenants relocating for work will be given greater priority under the ‘reasonable preference’ system used to prioritize people for social housing. Councils will now have to extend the ‘hardship’ criteria to include those moving for work.
The new statutory guidance will also ensure that every council in England will have to set aside a small proportion of lets for tenants who need to move because of work or training.
Authorities will be required to provide at least 1% of their existing stock under the Right to Move scheme, although they would be free to offer more.
Any town hall that decides to offer less will need to explain to voters why.
The Localism Act gave councils the power to set their own rules on who qualifies for social housing in their area.
In December 2013, the government issued statutory guidance, ‘providing social housing for local people’ to encourage local authorities to use their new qualification flexibilities to apply a residency test for social housing. It also referred to the government’s intention to introduce a Right to Move for social tenants seeking to move to take up a job or be closer to work. In the meantime it made clear authorities were expected to support tenants who wanted to move across authority boundaries for work-related reasons.
The 6 week consultation, launched on September, 10, 2014, sought to formally incorporate this expectation within Right to Move through regulations.
In 2012 to 2013 only 46% of social renters of working age were in employment, compared to 87% of owner occupiers and 74% of private renters.