Harlow Council plans social housing ban for criminals

Harlow MP Robert Halfon Harlow MP Robert Halfon supports the new policy, which he said was 'socially just'

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People with certain convictions will be banned from social housing under a new policy introduced by a council.

Each year 1,000 people join Harlow Council's housing register, but only about 500 homes become available.

The new policy will bar people with housing debt or those who are "involved in committing anti-social behaviour" from the register.

The National Association of Ex-Offenders, Unlock, has criticised the idea.

The council said the policy, which comes into force in September, followed three months of public consultation.

Those who will be excluded from the register include people with recent convictions for domestic violence or hate crime, those with anti-social behaviour orders or people with outstanding injunctions against them.

There are currently about 5,000 people on the housing register.

The new housing policy for Harlow

  • Housing applicants must now have lived continually in Harlow for five years, rather than one.
  • Armed forces personnel with local connections will be given greater priority.
  • Council tenants wanting to downsize will be given increased priority.
  • Adopters and foster carers will be given higher priority.
  • Applicants with more than £50,000 in savings, equity or income will be barred from the list.
  • Those with debts either for social or private housing will be barred.
  • Applicants or householders involved in committing anti-social behaviour or whose previous homes were subject to a closure notice by police for drug dealing will also be excluded.

Rod Truan, council cabinet member for housing, said: "With the demand for social housing not easing we have to look at how we allocate stock and who should get priority on the register.

"It's a difficult situation but these changes give priority to local people who are in genuine need of a council home."

Chris Stacey, of Unlock, which supports offenders, said: "Stable housing is one of the core components in reducing reoffending."

The new policy risked "excluding and locking out of housing" some those in need of support, he said.

Conservative MP for Harlow Robert Halfon said: "I welcome it because it is compassionate and socially just.

"We have to have a 'something for something society' not a 'something for nothing society."

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