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Social Housing Speed Read: Proposed Reforms to Social Housing Allocation

Following the introduction of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, a new government consultation was carried out, ending on 26 March and discussed proposed reforms to the way that social housing is allocated in England.


The consultation intended to reform the social housing application process in England. The government will use the information gathered to inform secondary legislation which will be created under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996. The consultation and the proposed reforms come after the government’s £11.5 billion Affordable Housing Programme which aims to deliver affordable housing across the country.

Currently Local Housing Authorities set their own allocation policies, provided they comply with Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 and the associated legislation. Local Housing Authorities are required to have schemes that give preference to the most vulnerable applicants such as those occupying insanitary or over-crowded houses or those who need social housing for medical or welfare reasons.

Proposed Reforms

The consultation is underway to discuss the following proposed reforms:

UK Connection test

The UK Connection test proposes that social housing applicants must have a connection to the UK. The proposed reform is that applicants will be required to be either a British or Irish citizen, have a right of abode or have been a lawful resident of the UK for ten years. The proposals also include an exception for individuals who have arrived in the UK on a relocation or resettlement scheme. It is also proposed that the Secretary of State will have the power to make exemptions as and when it is appropriate in order to disapply the UK connection test.

It is believed that the government have also been consulting Local Housing Authorities to understand the capacity of such Authorities to support and accommodate individuals from outside of the UK to obtain Social Housing whilst balancing the resources available.

Local Connection test

The proposal of a Local Connection test includes individuals being able to demonstrate a connection to the local area for at least 2 years. The rationale for the proposal is that it will incentivise social housing applicants to make “sustained links to their communities”. It is proposed that the definition of “local connection” will be expanded in order to capture connections such as employment and family associations, rather than purely residence.

Income test

The Income test proposes that any applicant with an income over the maximum threshold will not qualify for Social Housing. This test will apply to new social housing applicants only, and will not apply to those already residing in social housing or who are currently on the waiting list. There will also be further exemption in relation to applicants in receipt of Universal Credit, those requiring supported housing and members of the Armed Forces.

Anti-Social Behaviour test

The government have put forward to consultation the proposal that applicants with unspent convictions or certain civil sanctions for anti-social behaviour could be banned from social housing for up to five years.

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Terrorism test

Applicants with unspent terrorist convictions will no longer qualify for social housing.

New Grounds for Eviction

One proposal is that Social Housing residents who have previously demonstrated anti-social behaviour now face eviction from their social housing residence under a new “three strikes and you’re out” policy. These new grounds will likely come in the form of secondary legislation under the Housing Acts of 1985 and 1988.

Fraudulent Declaration test

Another proposal is that applicants who knowingly or recklessly make false statements on their applicant when applying for social housing will face a period of disqualification in waiting for social housing.

Effect on Social Housing

Should the law come into effect, RPs would be able to rely on the secondary legislation to help allocate social housing consistently on a nationwide basis. Currently, the guidelines are unclear and vary across England,  and RPs do not have clarity in relation to whom they should prioritise when granting social housing to applicants. This should change and allocation guidelines should become certain with the introduction of the reforms. The introduction of the proposed new grounds for eviction will enable RPs to remove tenants who are disruptive and consistently display anti-social behaviour, and improve quiet enjoyment for the majority.


The proposed reforms to social housing allocation in England aim to provide national guidance, and will restrict the availability of social housing whilst providing increased certainty to both RPs and those applying.

If you believe you are impacted by anything mentioned in the article above, or you have any concerns about a separate Social Housing matter, get in touch with our expert Social Housing lawyers.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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