LEADING members of a local authority which has refused to allow its stock of council housing go into private hands look set to approve changes to the criteria for getting social houses.

Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet has been recommended to stop placing low paid workers higher up the list for housing as well as suspending people who have built up rent arrears from applying for a council house.

A report to the cabinet members said the recommendations followed support for a number of other proposals, such as ending giving extra preference to people wanting to transfer from houses that were bigger than they need, in a consultation.

The proposals follow government guidance urging local authorities to consider how they could use their allocation policies to support households in low paid employment and contributing to their community.

Preference is currently given to applicants in low paid employment, in addition to any housing need priority band that they have been awarded. To ensure fairness and consistency in applying the allocations policy across all the partner organisations, it has been proposed residents should compete on their housing need only, regardless of employment status.

The current policy also gives two different levels of priority to applicants who are living in overcrowded housing.

The report states: “To ensure fairness and consistency in applying the allocations policy, the consultation asked if all applicants ho are overcrowded should be awarded an equal priority. Most of the responses to the consultation agreed with this proposal.”

Cabinet members will also be told applicants with a history of rent arrears of under £1,500 or mid to low-level behaviour issues are currently allowed to bid on advertised properties, but are considered after applicants with a record of good behaviour.

It is proposed that such applicants will now have their application suspended from bidding until they have complied with a repayment plan for arrears or have modified their behaviour.