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Over a million households stuck on social housing waiting lists, Shelter says

Shelter has published new analysis that reveals 1.15m households are in need of a social home and are stuck on long waiting lists, with only 290,000 social homes made available last year.

For those stuck on long lists, almost two-thirds (65%) are made to wait on lists for over a year. And 27% must wait more than five years.

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: ‘The fact that one year on from Grenfell, some survivors are still homeless has totally shaken people’s trust in the safety net the state supposedly provides. And this is despite them being ‘fast-tracked’ outside the usual waiting list system, too.

‘Imagine then, how frustrating life must be for the millions of people elsewhere in the country who have been stuck on waiting lists, often for years on end. This is not just confined to London but happening right across the country, from Brighton to Blackpool. Families are unable to get settled and unable to get on with their lives.

This week the Local Government Association (LGA) published a study which revealed that two-thirds of councils will have no chance of replacing homes sold off under Right to Buy on a one-for-one basis in five years’ time unless a significant restructuring of the scheme takes place.

A spokesperson for the LGA said:  In 1977, there were 5 million council homes, now there are 1.6 million. Just one in 10 of all households live in council housing, compared with a third in 1977. This compares with a doubling of households in more expensive privately rented homes, from 2.2 million in 1977 to 4.5 million now.

‘This loss of social rented housing risks pushing more families into the private rented sector, driving up housing benefit spending and rents and making it more difficult for families to save the deposit needed for their first house.

‘Only an increase of all types of housing – including those for affordable or social rent – will solve our housing shortage and help to make housing affordable for future generations.

‘Councils must be part of the solution to our chronic housing shortage and able to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes.

‘For that to happen, the Government needs to completely scrap the cap on the amount councils can borrow to build and allows councils to be able to keep 100% of receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy to replace homes and reinvest in new housing.’

Below are Shelter’s figures which reveal the 10 English local authorities with fewest available social homes compared to households on a waiting list :

Local authority 

Number of households on the waiting list (2017)

Number of social rent lettings available (2016/17)

Gap of homes

Number of households to a single home

Newham (London)

25,729

588

25,141

44

Merton (London)

9,581

270

9,311

35

City of London (London)

853

26

827

33

Kingston upon Thames (London)

9,732

300

9,432

32

Redbridge (London)

8,335

318

8,017

26

Brighton and Hove (South East)

24,392

949

23,443

26

Fylde (North West)

5,024

214

4,810

23

Medway (South East)

19,905

965

18,940

21

Islington (London)

18,033

884

17,149

20

Dacorum (East of England)

12,419

689

11,730

18

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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