Social housing bands criticised in Chichester district

Ben Breeze, waiting for a new home and new heart. ''Picture by Louise Adams C140187-2 Chi Ben Breeze
Ben Breeze, waiting for a new home and new heart. ''Picture by Louise Adams C140187-2 Chi Ben Breeze

ANGER has erupted over the banding system used to prioritise people on the social housing register.

Chichester District Council is working to house 3,449 people – a figure which outnumbers the accommodation on offer.

But the banding system developed for those requiring social housing through lettings organisation Homemove has been branded a ‘total joke’ and the subject provoked huge reaction on the Observer’s Facebook page.

For Ben Breeze, 30, from Chichester, (pictured) time is running out. He has one week left to find a place to live after being given one month’s notice to leave his current property.

After being placed in Band C with ‘medium to low need’–Band A represents those with the highest needs and Band D the lowest – Mr Breeze said he didn’t know where to turn.

“I have no idea what I’m going to do,” said Mr Breeze. “I’m going to be sleeping in my car from next Thursday.”

Mr Breeze suffers from a severe heart condition and has two pacemakers fitted. He was admitted to hospital after having a mild heart attack 
last week.

“How ill do you have to be to get housed and be high priority?

“I’m extremely ill at the moment and it’s just getting worse and worse. It’s coming across like they don’t care. If I’m renting and I fall ill again – what can I do? I can’t guarantee I will be able to pay the rent.

“I can’t go to my parents, they foster.”

A spokeswoman for Chichester District Council said: “If someone is threatened with homelessness and they are served with a valid notice to leave their home, they 
are automatically given a Band C status.

“If someone in priority need is then made homeless because they have not found suitable housing, we then provide them with temporary housing.”

The number of people on the register has gone down in the past two years – but in 2013 Chichester District Council adopted a new scheme favouring people with a local connection to the district.

Ali Stratton-Baldwin, from Chichester, said the MP and councillors had to step in to help her.

“They managed to get me into B band,” she said.

“Then it took two more years before we were finally rehoused. I know families living in worse conditions than we were, that are still waiting to be rehoused, in Band C when they should be in B, with no end in sight. The system does not work.”

Banding system ‘very helpful’ for some

WITH ‘incredibly high’ demand for housing, Chichester District Council said it had to be ‘fair’ to everyone on the register.

“That is why we have strict criteria that we follow,” said a spokeswoman for Chichester District Council.

“We have also worked hard to develop other options including our own in-house lettings service to help people obtain private rented accommodation in the district.”

Lisa Jobson said she found the banding system ‘very helpful’.

“I was a Band D and due to medical reason I was moved to band B,” said Miss Jobson. “I was moved within about a year.

“I found the council banding department very helpful – there is not enough housing to go round so people are always going to be unhappy.”

To find out more about the scheme visit Homemove’s website