Concerns have been raised over controversial comments made by Croydon’s housing chief about the entitlement of pregnant women to council housing.
Borough housing chief Peter Browne said: “I come home on the bus and every week and I hear people saying: ‘I’ve got myself pregnant but I haven’t got my council house yet.’”
The comments, in an interview with ‘thisiscroydontoday.co.uk’ were made in the context of government proposals, which will allow local councils to decide who they allow to join housing lists. A change, which would allow councils to “manage expectations” as to who is likely to get council housing, says a council spokesperson.
Croydon council plans to slash 5000 people from the council house waiting list. It is hoped the plans will reduce the number of people on the list who do not have sufficient housing need.
Browne’s comments have triggered responses suggesting that many women become pregnant deliberately in the hope of getting automatic entitlement to council housing, and are an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer.
In online responses to the interview, Patricia from South Croydon said: “Give these silly little girls compulsory contraceptives,” and Christopher from Tatsfield added: “Why should we foot the bill for multi-breeding women?”
Young People in Focus, Trust for the Study of Adolescence, said 80 per cent of teenage mothers live with their parents and just five per cent of the 20,000 mothers aged under 18 who give birth nationally, live in independent tenancies. Four per cent of children born in England each year have a teenage mother.
Paul Aston, head of service for housing options in Croydon said those being cut from the waiting list, “Are the people who haven’t got a hope in hell, but are costing the council a fortune.”
When asked to give details of the cost of individuals on the waiting lists the council was unclear. A spokesman said: “Depends who they are, what their situation is.”
However they insist that that these changes will only affect people who have no housing need. “This is absolutely not about denying people with genuine need from joining the housing waiting list.
“It is about removing a group of people from the list because they are perfectly capable of providing their own housing and have the means and finances to do so.”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Shelter believes that housing waiting lists should be open to everyone, allowing people the right to have their application assessed on the basis of housing need and be given priority according to the law.
“We are therefore extremely concerned by government proposals to let local councils set their own rules as to who can join housing waiting lists.”