Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere

The Coronavirus emergency has put a strain on everyone – residents and businesses alike. Many families have bravely faced personal tragedies, misfortunes and dealt with the difficulties of having to self-isolate and not see their loved ones.

But the pandemic has put into particular focus the plight of Ipswich residents who do not enjoy the “luxury” of a permanent home or one that is adequate for their needs.

Last week, I explained the work the Council was undertaking to support homeless people and rough sleepers through the crisis.

This week I want to look at families who, for many reasons, desperately need to move to a new house. This can often be because they are in overcrowded accommodation with not enough room for the children. You can only imagine how much more difficult that will have been to deal with under lockdown.

For three months these families have had no chance of a move to more suitable housing as lockdown restrictions meant the Council’s social housing allocation system had to be suspended.

So, I’m really pleased that the Council is now able to restart allocations through the Gateway to Home Choice scheme on 4th June when people will be able to apply online at: www.gatewaytohomechoice.org.uk

Available Council and Housing Association homes will be advertised again from this week, and people will be able to bid on them as before during “normal” times. Viewings (under safety guidelines) and allocations will start taking place a week later. Previous users of the system will be contacted, where we have an email address, to advise them of the restart. As usual, our housing team will be on hand to help applicants through the process.

Although many properties have become vacant since March, there is a backlog on making them available for occupation as lockdown restrictions meant, for a large period, we weren’t able to undertake the necessary repairs and improvements. Even now we can’t do this at our previous rate due to the Government’s COVID-safe Workplace guidelines.

We will be working hard to make more properties available over the coming weeks so more Ipswich families can enjoy the benefits of a safe, suitably sized house that many of us take for granted.

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