8,000 households are to be removed from the Tower Hamlets social housing waiting list. There are currently 20,000 households waiting for social housing in the borough.
The Council is proposing to remove all Band 3 applicants from the Common Housing Register (CHR) as part of its social housing review.
No prospect of ever receiving a tenancy
40% of those on the waiting list are categorised as being in Band 3 and the council states that ‘the vast majority of applicants in this band have little or no prospect of ever receiving an offer of accommodation unless they qualify for sheltered or older persons’ housing.’
The Council runs a single allocation scheme with 19 housing associations in addition to Tower Hamlets Homes, its Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO).
Residents, some of whom have been bidding for housing for over a decade, have been receiving letters informing them of this drastic action in the last week.
Five main review areas
The social housing review covers five main housing issues; homelessness; freeing up larger properties; provision of ground floor flats to those with medical needs; faster rehousing times for victims of domestic; changes to Band 3.
In addition to the removal of all current Band 3 applicants ‘who are already adequately accommodated’, in future only two categories of applicants would be accepted onto Band 3.
- Single applicants or couples over 50 years and these people would only ‘be considered for older person homes that become available’ (a type of property traditionally in low demand).
- Those needing sheltered accommodation which is also in low demand
Residents can tell Tower Hamlets what they think of the social housing review proposals by completing an online survey.
Two of three focus groups planned have already taken place, there is one more in Stepney on Tuesday 10th December between 10am and 2pm. Email the consultation team to register.
A drop-in session will also be held on Saturday 14th December between 10am and 1pm at Room 101, Albert Jacob House, 62 Roman Road, E2 0PG. Two other drop-in sessions have already been held.
The main social housing review site also has more details of the proposals.
The cold facts outlined above do not express the rage and fury of borough residents who have been unceremoniously kicked off the waiting list for a council tenancy.
The housing crisis is not confined to Tower Hamlets but is felt most keenly in the UK’s poorest borough.
One resident told us that his daughter had been bidding for twelve years before being told she was being removed from the housing waiting list.
Another angry resident contacted LW that every one of her grand-children had also had the bad news.
The anger of these residents is fuelled by the knowledge that there are many abuses of the way the current housing list is managed by Tower Hamlets Council.
Not fit for purpose
Three recent news items reflect the common perception that the housing list is not fit for purpose.
The jailing of former Labour councillor Harun for housing fraud, the fact that Mohammed Moksudur Choudhury, a single man with no dependents who was later convicted of plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange was found to be living in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs and the controversy over the social housing arrangements of Apsana Begum, the Labour candidate to be Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse. Note: Investigation into Apsana Begum is ongoing.
And of course the convicted killer who was rehoused on the Green Bank, presumably by the authorities, after returning from Spain at the conclusion of his sentence.
Do you know of people screwing the waiting list?
Too many honest tenants have told LW of people getting a council flat in ‘unusual circumstances’ for these to be dismissed as one-off exceptions. Here are some of them.
- The single east European male with no dependents who somehow managed to get a council bedsit despite it being unheard of for single men with no children getting a social tenancy. A nice guy perhaps but who did he pay? And how much?
- The allegation that a council employee would, in return for cash, bump people up the housing waiting list
- The two young brothers who have been allocated a nice council flat between them and proceeded to inflict chaos and misery on their new neighbours with their drug taking and anti-social behaviour
- The small-time criminal who scammed the system by playing up his health issues and was given a social tenancy – after his first dodgy application was rumbled
- The council flat, again in Wapping, that is sub-let by its tenant to frequently changing groups of young people
- Updated: Just been informed of another one! Family of parents and two (adult) children in three-bed council property. Son wants to be independent so applied and gets a one bed flat. How? Daughter also wants to be independent – and she also gets a one bed flat. How? Which leaves the two parents in a three bedroom house only using one bedroom. Why?
So if these are just some of the abuses of the council waiting list that LW knows about how many others are there across the borough?
Tower Hamlets Homes has 22,000 properties under its management. How many of these have been either obtained illegally or are being used by tenants to line their pockets? 5? 50? 500? Are these the work of individuals or organised groups?
A forensic audit of the occupancy of every single council home in Tower Hamlets has to be undertaken by an outside agency and the results published.
This audit should be completed before honest residents who have lived in the borough all their lives are denied any chance of obtaining a council tenancy.
Get in touch with Moley
Do you know about people who have obtained a council property without being entitled? Do you know of illegal subletting of council property by a tenant? If you do please tell us about it via firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as possible. Your personal details will not be disclosed to anyone under any circumstances.