Working households could soon lose their priority on Bracknell’s housing waiting list over those not in work.

Leaders of Bracknell Forest Council are set to approve changes to rules governing entitlement to social housing.

The changes are designed to reduce homelessness and tackle housing shortfalls. They include requiring teenagers of the same sex to share bedrooms, and introducing a maximum household income.

But plans to end working households’ priority over those not in work were the least popular among people who responded to a recent council consultation.

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People argued that those in work should be ‘rewarded’ by having priority on the housing waiting list, according to a report on the consultation. But the report says many of those same people also agreed that this would be unfair to people unable to work.

The report said: “The most frequent comment among those who disagreed with the proposal was that working households ‘deserved’ to be awarded a higher priority and that this helped to reinforce the positive value of work.”

Other arguments included that working people are more ‘reliable’ rent payers and ‘often worse off’ than those on benefits.

But council officers say that although some comments ‘reflect common views about people in work and people on benefits, there is no substantive evidence to support some of the claims.'

They said the current policy unfairly discriminates against non-working households – and that it could discriminate against disabled people, those with long-term illness, or with children.

Officers said: “Many of the responses made, even by those that disagreed with the proposal, recognised that the current policy is unfair to some households that cannot work.”

A total of 318 people completed an online survey on the changes. Some 38 per cent of them agreed with removing working households’ priority while 44 per cent disagreed and 18 per cent didn’t know.

More people supported plans to introduce an income cap. This means that households earning more than the cap may not be eligible.

Caps could be introduced at a gross annual income of £38,272 for a one bedroom home, £47,869 for two bedrooms, £61,031 for three bedrooms and £76,589 for four. Some 54 per cent of people agreed, 24 per cent disagreed and 22 per cent didn’t know.

Teenagers and young adults in families on the housing waiting list may have to share bedrooms under the new rules.

Currently, families waiting for housing through the council are allocated a separate bedroom for each child.

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But under the planned new rules siblings of the same sex aged between 10 and 20 will have to pair up and share two to a bedroom. Pairs of children under 10 will also have to share regardless of their sex.

Non-dependent adults aged 21 and older will have to apply for housing in their own right – however council officers stress this doesn’t mean they will be made to move out.

Instead, it means they won’t be taken into account when assessing a household’s housing need.

The group of leading councillors – the executive – is set to decide whether to approve the changes at a meeting on Tuesday, April 23.