People on the housing waiting list could lose out after councillors voted to give a higher priority to people with mobility problems, according to a Brighton campaigner.
Daniel Harris also said that the change went before members of Brighton and Hove City Council to decide without first having gone out to consultation.
Councillors voted to allow people with mobility needs the right to bid on suitable homes in all housing queues.
They were told that the changes addressed a disadvantage for people with mobility problems who were not given priority over other applicants for accessible homes.
Now, “mobility classified” properties, such as single-level ground-floor properties, would be removed from general bidding on the housing list.
Only households including someone with mobility issues would now be allowed to apply for these properties.
The council’s Housing and New Homes Committee was told that this would make the process more transparent for everyone.
Mr Harris said:
“Can the council provide a firm commitment to collaborate with and actively consult both services and members of the Homemove Brighton Action Group moving forward?”
He said that the changes could potentially leave many people awaiting a housing transfer “with no meaningful alteration to their circumstances and longer waits”.
Mr Harris said that some people’s disabilities were not necessarily physical such as families with autistic children who required housing support.
Labour councillor Andrei Czolak, the deputy chair of the Housing and New Homes Committee, said that the proposal was not a major policy change.
Councillor Czolak said that the changes would have a “positive impact” on people who required an adapted home.
The focus was on those who could not get through doors and had difficulty moving around their homes. He said:
“These households form a minority of applicants on the housing register.
“There will be no noticeable disproportionate impact on other households on the housing register because they will not be eligible to bid for mobility-classified accommodation.”
Councillor Czolak said that the proposals would improve the situation for others on the waiting list who would be competing for different properties.
The committee was told that the council’s housing allocation policy was being reviewed, with proposals due before the committee next year and a consultation planned.
Currently, half of the properties offered through the council’s housing register were allocated to homeless people – and almost 13 per cent of those had disabilities.
Labour councillor Faiza Baghoth said:
“I know people who have been waiting for accommodation for more than eight years and they can’t move.”
The change would make it easier for people to move and free up their properties for use by other people.
Anne Meadows Patcham And Hollingbury Conservative and Faiza Baghoth Labour H&K
Conservative councillor Anne Meadows asked if the council kept properties that had been adapted for the disabled or elderly.
The council’s assistant director for housing management Martin Reid said that the council had a register of adapted homes.
He said that the council did not remove adaptations when homes were relet, particularly when the adaptations were “significant and structural”.
A report to the committee, which met at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday (November 15), said that 4,589 households were on the housing register.
Of these, 1,358 were homeless, and 12.9 per cent of those were disabled. Some 1,124 people were waiting for a transfer – and 62.1 per cent of those were disabled.
The “council interest” queue, which included care leavers, consisted of 85 households – and a few of those were people with disabilities.