Islington Council in housing list points shake-up after high court ruling

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development - Credit: Archant

The town hall has responded to a wrist slap by the High Court over how it allocates council housing by giving more points to hard-up homeless families who would otherwise not qualify.

A judicial review in February heard Islington had given 120 of its homes to households outside of the bidding process because they didn’t have enough points to get on the waiting list, casting doubts over the validity of the points-based scheme.

The review had been called by a single mother-of-three, who challenged the council’s decision to deny her a place because she didn’t have the 120 points required to get on the register.

During the hearing the town hall’s housing chief Karen Lucas admitted that in 2015/16 a third of the 1,172 total allocations were given to families outside of the bidding process.

Last week the town hall executive voted through a change that will see families in financial straits given an extra 40 points – seeing them over the minimum points threshold – if “it is in the council’s wider strategic interests or helps the council manage temporary accommodation more effectively”

This essentially means the council can continue doing what it was doing. Housing chief Diarmaid Ward told the Gazette last week: “What we don’t want is some people not to be able to be in the system at all. We want to make sure everyone can do it.

“We have families in temporary accommodation outside the borough. One of the criteria would be if it was in the council’s interest to move them back. They are generally in the private sector, so for example if the lease was about to expire the council could move them back into a council property.

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“Before the judicial review we were able to give people direct offers [who didn’t have enough points] but the ruling found it needed to be more specific about what we were doing and why.”

With 733 Islington households in temporary accommodation, the town hall has a difficult job making sure the system is fair for everyone on the 18,300 waiting list.

“It’s always going to be a difficult balancing act,” Cllr Ward added. “We are trying to make it as fair as possible. If we had more housing it would make it easier.

“We are building 137 homes this year, the most in the borough for 30 years. That is to help families in temporary accommodation get permanent accommodation.”