People who have had a connection to Stevenage for at least five years will be given priority on the borough council’s new social housing waiting list, which launches today.

After a review and a series of consultation sessions with tenants and people waiting for a home, Stevenage Borough Council has decided to make sure people with local roots will get a leg-up.

The current points-based system only requires applicants to have had a connection to the town for six months, but will now be replaced by an A to F band system.

Applicants with similar needs will be placed in the same band, with people in Band A having the greatest need, and prioritised according to when they applied.

Under the new rules home owners and people who have behaved anti-socially or have been found guilty of anti-social behaviour are not eligible to apply.

Applicants who did not pay their rent while living in previous properties or have other housing related debts will also be ineligible until they have paid back the money they owe.

There will also be a separate register for tenants who want to move from their current council property but have no priority, for example, if they want to downsize.

It is hoped the new system will make it fairer for everyone after some residents and applicants raised concerns in the consultations that the current system is unfair and open to abuse.

Councillor Ann Webb, who is responsible for housing at the council, said: “While, sadly, we cannot yet significantly increase the numbers of council homes in Stevenage, we do regularly review our allocations scheme to make sure that homes are let to the people who need them most.

“In developing this new scheme, we have listened to the views of many local people and we believe that we have a fair and uncomplicated way of allocating social homes to Stevenage residents.”