'Fairer' social housing reforms will ensure system used 'in the right way' by those who 'play by the rules'

30 January 2024, 08:36 | Updated: 30 January 2024, 08:38

Minister explains British Homes for British Workers scheme

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

People who don't 'play by the rules' will not have access to social housing under new plans to ensure those who have 'paid in to this country' get priority access to homes.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Housing Minister Lee Rowley said the plans were to ensure social housing was used "in the right way."

He told Nick: "Social housing is a finite resource, we have to make sure it's used in the right way, we have to make sure the people who have access to it are playing by the rules."

He added: "I think it's reasonable that people who have been in this country, have paid in this country, who have supported this country get prioritisation for a finite and very important resource."

Mr Rowley told LBC it was part of Rishi Sunak's "broader plan' to "make this country fairer for the long term."

Read more: Sunak prepares 'British homes for British workers' policy: UK citizens set to be given priority for social housing

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People with "close connections" to the UK and their local area are to be favoured for social housing, the Government is to announce.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate a connection to the UK for at least 10 years and their local area for at least two years in an "overhaul" of the system.

Those with unspent criminal convictions or certain civil sanctions for anti-social behaviour could be banned from social housing for up to five years.

People who "repeatedly make their neighbours' lives hell" through anti-social behaviour also face being evicted under a "three strikes and you're out" policy.

Terrorists with certain convictions could also be blocked from living in social homes.

New social tenants on high incomes would also no longer qualify. The salary threshold is yet to be determined and existing tenants would not be affected.

Housing minister Lee Rowley said: "Today we are proposing further steps to make the allocation of social housing fairer for people.

"If you abuse the system, making people's lives a misery, or actively work against our British values, you are making a choice - such choices will have consequences and our proposals seek to stop such people getting a social home.

"The message is clear: play by the rules, pay in and we will support you. If you choose not to, this country is not going to be a soft touch.

"The public want to know decent and hardworking people that have contributed to this country will be prioritised for new social tenancies.

"People already living in social homes want to know that anyone moving near them will be respectful of their neighbours with their communities protected from those who persistently break the law.

"That is why it is right that the finite resource of social housing is allocated fairly and local law-abiding citizens in need have more access to a home in their own communities."

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The Government has said it wants to bring in the reforms "as soon as possible" but is seeking the views of the public, councils, social housing tenants and providers.

A consultation will run until 26 March and can be accessed through an online survey.

The Government has suggested some of the measures may be implemented by secondary legislation which would mean they do not require a vote in Parliament.

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