The Council is currently consulting on changing many aspects of its housing allocation policies but is trying to fast track some changes (see the full report here).
The proposals that worry me are
1. to reduce the number of reasonable offer from 2 to 1 and reduce the suspension period for refusal of a reasonable offer from 12 months to 6 months.
2. combine the existing letting areas (basically settlements) into larger units and ask people to select at least 2 of these bigger units rather than 5 settlements.
In Formartine, people would then be required to select 2 from:
Oldmeldrum/Barravale/Pitmedden/Tarves/Udny Green/Udny Station
Any 2 of those 5 would cover a big area. If people have places of work, family and friends who provide essential social support (taking care of the kids after school, etc), maybe it is simply not possible to live in Methlick rather than Potterton (16.5 miles away) : and the definition of reasonable is based on the housing need not wider social needs.
Council officers told us that the average number of people who are offered a council house before accepting it is 2.4 - or to put it another way, there is a 60% chance of someone turning down a house that is offered to them. Locally we were told that the reason is rarely the quality of the house - so it must be location. We are under pressure to let houses faster and reduce the housing waiting list. But forcing people to select a large area and then saying "take it or suspend you from the waiting list for 6 months" doesn't seen to me to be very helpful.
People understand that if they pick a very small high demand area, they will wait a long time. But surely that is their look out. Offering people houses that they are even less likely to take because it is in a location they don't want, doesn't seem helpful to me.
Wouldn't we be better to tell people how many houses there are in each area and, if possible, the turnover? The people who can be flexible will get a better chance of a house. But if the need is specific, then that is just the way it is. Offering houses in the wrong place will help no-one - except perhaps a statistician, looking to reduce the length of the waiting list.
I'd like to hear your views on this.