Vulnerable people given greater priority on Bradford's social housing waiting list

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Val Slater Councillor Val Slater

Vulnerable people, such as injured soldiers or domestic violence victims, are to be given greater priority on the social housing waiting list from now on.

From tomorrow, Bradford Council and social housing provider Incommunities are unveiling a simpler system for prioritising those who need homes.

Under the old system, Choice Based Lettings, prospective tenants had to bid regularly for homes online.

A Council spokesman said this posed problems for many vulnerable people who didn't have access to a computer, as they couldn't compete with those who could bid regularly.

But under the new system, called Value Based Lettings, people will be interviewed and placed into one of three priority bands according to their circumstances.

The changes have been welcomed by the Bradford District Tenants' and Residents' Federation, which represents tenants.

Chairman Alex Brown said: "It has got to be better than Choice Based Lettings. On the old system, you went onto a computer, and if you were computer illiterate, it took you at least an hour.

"Various people tried it, including some of the directors of Incommunities, and they couldn't manage it - it was that complex."

Mr Brown said the new procedure would be "better for everybody". He said while the old system had a way of prioritising the vulnerable, it hadn't been very effective.

He said: "The idea is that instead of four bands, which basically didn't mean anything anyway, now when people are interviewed before they go onto the list, they will be assessed for their vulnerability and their priority."

Bradford Council's executive member for housing, Councillor Val Slater, compared the new process to a "dating service" matching people with the type of property they wanted.

She said: "This new system will make sure people are matched to homes to better meet their needs and personal preferences. It will also mean that those in greatest or most urgent need of a home are prioritised."

Homeless people will given top priority, followed by those in 'urgent need', such as injured armed forces personnel, people being discharged from hospital or domestic violence victims.

The third band will be for any other people deemed to be in high need of housing. If they can't be found a home, they will be put on the waiting list.

People who don't fall into any of these three bands can still register for social housing and would be considered for a property if no-one from the three bands wanted it.

And any homes not matched with someone on the list will be advertised online on a first-come, first-served basis.

Incommunities' assistant chief executive for neighbourhood services, Adrienne Reid, said the new system would be more "customer-focused".

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