Good quality housing is fundamental to supporting people in living enriching and fulfilling lives. It has a profound effect on people's health and wellbeing, their ability to live independently, or with support, children's ability to learn and flourish, and a family's ability to live in safe, secure and stable surroundings.
The current housing landscape means that people are waiting longer to own their own homes, if indeed at all. At the same time rents in the private sector are increasing, making them increasingly unaffordable even for those in work. In this environment housing which is managed by the council, and its partners, Housing Associations, remains the most significant provider of properties available to those on lower incomes.
Housing managed by the council is funded by tenants and it therefore only fair that local residents who have lived and contributed to Slough get first call, and that is why this scheme now includes a criteria that applicants must have lived in Slough for five years before they qualify to receive housing.
I want to make sure that people who are in low paid work have the same ability to access good quality housing as those who earn more, because I want everybody to live decently and contribute to our community. The scheme also recognises those who make a positive contribution to our town, whether that be through active involvement in community projects, providing a stable Forever Family for fostered and adopted children, or by serving our country in the Armed Forces.
As social housing is such a scare commodity, it should be preserved for those who have the highest need, who will treat this commodity with respect, and who will contribute to sustainable communities. This is why this policy goes further in linking rights and responsibilities. Households who pay their rent on time, who look after their properties, who contribute positively to their community and who are good tenants will be recognised with an allocation of housing. Those who are not will not be, until they can demonstrate that they are good tenants.
I don't want social housing to be simply the option of last resort. I want to ensure all our neighbourhoods are well maintained places, with a sense of community and shared purpose where our residents thrive. This scheme, in addition to the suite of refreshed policies across the housing service, will make the best use of the scarce resource of social housing, allocating it to those qualifying applicants who have the highest need, play by the rules and demonstrate that the council's offer of housing results in a positive change in their lives.
Councillor James Swindlehurst
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Renewal
(Labour Party, Cippenham Green ward)