Social housing in central London ‘a privilege, not a right’

Westminster’s cabinet member for housing Jonathan Glanz has defended the council’s plans to give workers and those searching for a job extra points in the allocations criteria, declaring that social housing in central London is a “privilege, not a right”.

From January 2012, the council will give extra points to families or individuals where the main applicant has been in work, under a written contract, for two years. Extra points will also be awarded to those seeking work.

Both Labour and the Government have also backed plans to reward those in work within the allocations system. A live poll on 24dash has also revealed that 60% of you believe workers should be given extra points in the allocations criteria. 

Pressed in an interview on BBC Radio 4 that housing was seen by many as a “basic human right” and that it shouldn’t hinge on people’s capacity to earn a living, Mr Glanz said he didn’t “accept those arguments”.

He said: “I’ve heard those arguments, but i’m afraid I don’t accept them. I think particularly in Westminster, in the centre of London, social housing is in fact a privilege, as oppose to a right, and I think those people that are there are very keen to stay in those homes and we are right to prioritise those making a contribution to Westminster or have a connection to Westminster in the allocation of what is a very scarce resource indeed.”

He said those that don’t fulfil the criteria – such as ‘occasional workers’, or those that can’t get a job through no fault of their own – would inevitably face a longer wait for housing.

“What we’re hoping to do is prioritise people in work,” said Mr Glanz. “Those people that don’t fulfil that criteria may have more time to wait for social housing.”

He said, however, that the council will continue to give priority according to need including factors such as young children, homelessness and those that need special medical attentions.

He added: “What we’re not doing is moving away from our fundamental responsibilities to those in housing need. Those will still be there. They will still be allocated a greater weight in terms of the points process. People in overcrowded accommodation or have a medical need will still receive a significant amount of points but we are going to allow those people that are working to receive additional points which will help them move up through the list.”