Tony “Soprano” Newman’s cunning plan for winning the 2018 local elections is to out-UKIP UKIP, with a housing policy that will restrict those qualifying for council homes to those who have lived in Croydon for at least three years.
Newman, the Labour leader of the council, wants to introduce a “Are you local” test straight from The League of Gentlemen for anyone applying for social housing in the borough.
In future, those seeking a council home will be required to have lived in Croydon for at least three years.
Politically, it is a populist stunt which may play well with some of the electorate. Even the new Tory Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, might like it. But housing professionals believe that the measure is clumsy, ill-considered and liable to cause massive social problems in the borough if introduced. They also warn that the policy has undertones of discrimination about it.
Croydon, especially under the previous Tory administration, already had an appalling record for housing some of the borough’s most vulnerable in sub-standard and unsafe temporary accommodation, often for unlawfully lengthy periods of time.
Many families have had to endure temporary accommodation in Croydon for more than three years. There are even examples of some being in a council-paid B&B for a decade. The housing professionals Inside Croydon has spoken to – senior figures in London housing associations – reckon that those disqualified from council housing lists under the proposed new residency rules will instead be forced into temporary accommodation – which is more expensive and paid for by the council.