THE body which allocates social housing across five East Lancashire boroughs is set to tighten its rules to reduce its waiting list for homes.

B-with-Us proposes to insist applications for affordable rented properties in future should demonstrate a local connection.

It works with 12 housing associations across Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.

It is consulting on its proposed changes until January 24.

A B-with-Us spokesman said: “There are currently over 9,000 active applicants our housing register. Each year only around 2,500 of these applicants are rehoused, and there are new applicants applying every day.

“Because of this high demand, B-with-Us have to make sure that the homes that are available go to those who need them most.

“To do this, B-with-Us have been reviewing the rules they use to decide who gets social housing.”

It plans to introduce a requirement for applicants to demonstrate a local connection to Pennine Lancashire for the first time.

This includes having been continuously resident in Pennine Lancashire for six of the last twelve months or having been resident there for three of the last five years.

Other connections include having a family member resident in Pennine Lancashire for a minimum of five years or having been employed in the area for six months.

The review also proposes disqualifying people with a housing-related debt of £500 or more from joining the waiting list and insisting that those with a smaller such debt clear the balance before being given a property.

It would ban homeowners with equity of more than £120,000 from applying and disqualify people who deliberately worsen their circumstances to qualify for the register or move to the top of it.

Applicants who unreasonably refuse a property three times will now see their suspension from the waiting list reduced from 12 months to six.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “This is a sensible move. There are always some people who seek to abuse the system.

“I welcome the local connection provision but hope that those will housing debt with be individually assessed.”

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council said: “It is important that social housing goes to those in greatest need.

“I welcome the local connection provision but am concerned about disqualifying those with house debt of £500 or more. There will be some applicants with such debts through no fault of their own in real need.”