Council makes changes to how it allocates housing to help locals in the greatest housing need

Homechoice, Cornwall Council’s system for allocating social housing, is about to change with new rules being put in place so that homes go to those with a strong connection to Cornwall and who are in the greatest housing need.

A new website will also be launched on 10 January to make it easier for people to set up a user account so that they will be able to see their Homechoice application and bid on properties when they are listed.

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The Council’s new social housing allocation policy will mean, for the majority of homes available through Homechoice, applicants will need to have a 3-year connection to Cornwall to be allocated a Cornwall Council property or a property that Homechoice has nomination rights over. Similar qualifications will apply to parish connections too.

Those households with an annual income below £30,000 will be prioritised when bidding for Cornwall Council owned properties which make up about a third of Cornwall’s 29,000 social housing stock.

Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes, Andrew Mitchell said: “Demand for social housing in Cornwall is very high and will increase. We are introducing changes to Homechoice because we need to ensure that the homes available are fairly allocated to those most in need and that those with a local connection get priority for housing.”

There are currently approx.19,500 households on the Homechoice register and every year, on average, only 2,300 social housing properties become available.

Cathy Hadfield, Cornwall Housing’s Director of Housing Options, added: “The Homechoice changes emphasise that Cornwall’s social housing system is based on choice and is not a waiting list. Applicants in housing need must actively seek and express interest in suitable housing. When an applicant bids on a property, they are putting themselves forward to be considered for that property.”

Current Homechoice applicants do not need to register a completely new housing application. Their current application will be ‘transferred’ to the new system. Current applicants will only need to set up a user account on the new website to access their housing application. Once a user account has been set up, applicants will be able to see their Homechoice application and bid on properties when they are listed.

The key changes are:

  • New rules mean applicants who do not apply for any suitable properties that become available through Homechoice, or refuse two suitable properties in a 12-month period, will be removed from the Homechoice register*
  • People with household incomes of £60,000 or more, or with assets worth more than £50,000 will not be allowed to join the Homechoice register
  • Cornwall Council owned properties, around 1/3rd of Cornwall’s 29,000 social housing properties, will be prioritised for households on annual incomes below £30,000
  • Applicants will need to have a 3-year connection to Cornwall to be allocated a Cornwall Council property or a property that Homechoice has nomination rights over. Similar qualifications will apply to parish connections too.

Andrew adds: “Providing affordable homes for the people of Cornwall is a priority for this Council.  We are working with partners to acquire and build new homes and looking at innovative ways to address the high demand for social housing. For example, the recent Sure Futures pilot, which has brought together the experience and knowledge of the Council’s Children, Families and Adults teams and that of Cornwall Housing to provide specialised housing for young adults; and the completion of 23 new Council houses in Goonhavern with families now settling in and making them home.”

Families and individuals not in the greatest housing need can get specialist housing advice and support from Cornwall Housing to identify their best housing option. You can find out more on the Housing Options Cornwall website.

Anyone who may be at risk of losing their home should contact Cornwall Housing as soon as possible so prompt advice can be given on possible housing options. The earlier the housing options team are contacted, the sooner they can help.