Mersey MP demands best houses be given to best-behaved families
SCARCE social housing would be awarded to people who can prove they are good citizens, under a Bill put forward by a Mersey MP.
And housing associations would face punishment if they failed to tell tenants that they were being offered a home next to a “neighbour from hell”.
Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead, said his Bill would kick-start a "Herculean effort to change the welfare state, so it ceases to penalise decent citizens in the way it now does".
And he warned that change was badly-needed to retain public support for the ever-more-costly welfare system, as it "crashed through the £200bn mark", for the first time.
At present, council and housing association homes are allocated to families in need, because they are homeless, ill, or live in overcrowded, or unfit, conditions.
Mr Field told MPs that those criteria should still exist, but should be trumped by a "good citizenship test", that would allow families to jump to the top of the waiting list.
These might be families who worked hard, volunteered in their local community, or who had an exemplary record as tenants in their existing homes.
Mr Field said: "I have one simple objective in mind – to put in pole position the good citizen in respect to the allocation of the decent and best housing association homes."
The most common complaint at his constituency surgeries came from families who worked and brought their children up well – yet missed out on homes in decent areas, he said.
Meanwhile, the Bill was also needed to close a loophole that meant only homeowners – not social landlords – were required to pass on information about problem families nearby.
Warning that tenants could be dumped next door to a neighbour from hell "without any warning whatsoever", Mr Field said: "This will protect good citizens from those chaotic families that cause, literally, such misery.
"The Bill will give all tenants the right to be consulted in such circumstances, the right to object and the right to a legal redress."
Mr Field's Housing (Amendment) Bill – which he outlined in his ECHO column last Saturday – was granted a second reading on March 30, but has little chance of becoming law due to a lack of parliamentary time.
However, it echoes proposals put forward by Labour leader Ed Miliband to allow town halls to deny council homes to people who fail to work, volunteer or be "good neighbours".
Councils in Manchester and London already consider "contribution" when drawing up housing waiting lists, rewarding volunteering and neighbourliness, as well as work. THE WIRRAL NEWS