The Home Choice Register is frequently used to justify additional house building in Cornwall. The implication is that for each household on the register there is a need to build a house.
This approach is in fact flawed. A substantial proportion of those on the register are deemed not to be in need while the vast majority of those remaining are already living in a property. If a household moves into another property then the house they have vacated will be available for someone else in most cases. Constructing an appropriate number of dwellings could therefore free up sufficient properties to enable more people to be adequately housed but the number of houses required would be far lower than the total number on the HCR. We estimate that the actual number of new dwellings required could equal 20% of the total number of households on the HCR.
What is necessary however, is a fundamental reform of the HCR to ensure that it reflects actual housing need. A number of local authorities have reduced the numbers on their HCRs by introducing new rules.
These have included:
Barring people with no local connection.
Removing those who have not made a bid for a property within a certain time-frame.
Excluding those with sufficient savings.
Disqualifying those able to meet their housing need through the private sector.
Taking people who have moved, off the list.
Removing people who no longer want social housing from the list.
While a process such as this could create a more meaningful register care must be taken that those in need do not lose the opportunity to apply for a property. We also need to deal with the underlying issues of the housing market in Cornwall such as the purchase of properties for second homes and holiday lets.