Up to 300 people are bidding for ONE Leeds council property

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AS MANY as 300 people are bidding for just ONE council house as Leeds struggles to deal with a waiting list of 24,000.

The bedroom tax, the impact of right-to-buy on council stocks and other factors mean there is a dire shortage of certain types of properties, a Leeds City Council housing panel has been told.

The authority is reviewing its overall lettings policy, in a bid to streamline the way council houses are allocated into one city-wide strategy. This comes after the city’s four ALMOs were disbanded last year, and all management of council housing stock bought in-house.

Councillor Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for housing matters, told a meeting of the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Board that demand for council housing in the city is generally FOUR TIMES as much as supply. He said that in some parts of the city, “we get 200 to 300 bids for every property so there’s a lot of disappointment”.

“The pressures on the lettings system have been magnified in the last year, for example through the bedroom tax,” he said. “We simply have not got the [smaller] properties.”

He said the authority is now driving forward to come up with an “overriding vision” which will bring “consistency” to the council housing allocation and management process.

Ideas being considered include - as previously revealed in the YEP - offering new build houses to long-standing and well-behaved tenants first.

Councillor Pauleen Grahame suggested that the current system of prioritisation and the general way the waiting list works could do with an overhaul.

She used the example of an elderly couple in Wetherby who own a five-bedroom private property but could sell this, cash in and still be able to go on the council housing waiting list as a high priority because of, for example, medical issues.

Quizzed by councillors, housing officers said the scenario “could happen, but of the 5,000 allocations made every year, it would be no more than a handful”.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh

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