Housing list: how it works

PUBLISHED: 14:09 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:15 10 June 2010

I write in response to your article – Lost files outcry – which appeared in the Exmouth Journal and Sidmouth Herald. I was extremely disappointed to read the article, which was both inaccurate and misleading.

I write in response to your article - 'Lost' files outcry - which appeared in the Exmouth Journal and Sidmouth Herald.

I was extremely disappointed to read the article, which was both inaccurate and misleading. I feel it appropriate to explain the operation and management of the Councils' Housing Register for the benefit of your readers and our local member, who has demonstrated that she does not seem to understand how the housing register works.

We have not lost applications or files, but we do delete applications from the housing register when the applicant fails to respond to our periodic correspondence inviting applicants to confirm they want to remain on the housing register.

We undertake this exercise because applicants move away from the area or resolve their own housing need and do not advise us. So we review the housing register to maintain an up to date list of people actively seeking and needing social housing. Most local housing authorities with an open housing register perform similar reviews, typically on an annual basis.

We do not delete a housing file after five years as indicated in your article and it is ridiculous to suggest such a thing when, regrettably with our limited supply of social housing, many non-priority households have to wait longer than this to get housed.

The housing register is essentially a list of people seeking housing in East Devon. It is administered in accordance with the relevant legislation, Government guidance, and the Council's adopted Allocation Policy. We have some 4,300 households on the housing register.

Because of the demand for social housing, we need a way of fairly allocating council tenancies to those in greatest housing need. The legislation requires us to give preference to certain categories of applicant for housing. So we invite applicants to register by completing an application form with details of the household, area of choice, social, medical or welfare needs etc.

In order to manage a large number of applicants seeking social housing, we sort applications and place them in bands (gold, silver and bronze) to reflect the relative priority of their application. Priorities can change as household circumstances change and most applicants keep us informed of such changes.

We do rely on applicants informing us of any change in their family circumstances, such as change of address, family size or medical conditions.

We periodically write to applicants, asking them to confirm they are still seeking housing in the district. We find a number of letters are returned 'not known at this address' so we go through a process of cancelling these applications. If the applicant comes back to us within six months with a reason for not responding, we will reinstate the application.

This is a way of cleansing the housing register and ensuring we are dealing with a list of 'live' applicants.

Your article referred to one case. Cllr Wragg has been asked for details of this case so the circumstances can be investigated and corrected, if a mistake has been made.

Further details of How the Housing Register Works are detailed in a leaflet on our website, together with our Allocation Policy. We have an open and transparent system of allocating homes, which I invite your reporter to look into in more depth so we can reassure the applicants on the housing register that it is being managed effectively.

Jill Elson,

23 Hazeldene Gardens,

Exmouth.

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