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Housing waiting lists could double next year with one in 10 stuck in queue for more than 5 years – new research

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One in 10 households in need of housing are stuck on council waiting lists for over five years as a result of the chronic shortage of affordable homes, new research reveals today.

A new report, Building post-pandemic prosperity, commissioned by the Local Government Association, the Association of Retained Council Housing, and National Federation of ALMOs, sets out the case for building 100,000 green social homes for rent each year as part of the recovery from COVID-19, to deliver net zero housing and “level-up” the nation.

It also reveals that as a result of the pandemic, council housing waiting lists could almost double next year to as many as 2.1 million households, due to the impact of Covid-related support schemes winding down and a potential increase in homelessness.

The LGA is calling on the Chancellor to use this month’s Spending Review to give councils the powers and funding to build 100,000 social homes for rent each year, which would not only achieve a third of the Government’s annual housing target but improve the public finances over 30 years by £24.5 billion.

This should include further reform Right to Buy, by allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts, have flexibility to combine Right to Buy receipts with other government grants and be able to set the size of discounts locally.

This comes as the report also found:

  • More than 100,000 fewer new homes will be built across all tenures by 2023 than would have been the case without COVID-19
  • A household typically saves £37 a week in social housing, compared to private rental
  • For 1.6 million households, social rent would be the most appropriate form of housing, as many are not ready or choose not to buy

The LGA said the delivery of 100,000 new social homes a year would bring a raft of significant environmental benefits that would support the Government’s net zero ambitions.

A family moving from an old, poorly insulated and fossil-fuel heated home into a modern home with heat pump could save up to £500 a year.

Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said:

“There is a desperate need to build more social housing in this country, which should be a central part of the Government’s ambition to level-up and build back better following the pandemic. Social housing gives families the security and stability of a decent home, as well as being a route to owning your own home through Right to Buy.

“Now is the time to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades. The benefits are clear – a programme of 100,000 social homes a year would shorten council housing waiting lists, reduce homelessness and cut carbon emissions, while delivering a multi-billion long-term boost to the economy.

“Councils stand ready to work with the Government to tackle our housing crisis, but need the powers to build homes with the right infrastructure on this scale in the Spending Review.”

Sarita-Marie Rehman Wall, NFA Chair and Tenant Board Member, said:

“The struggle to find a good home, and a home you can afford, is now very real and very tough for millions of people.

“Our national housing shortage isn’t just hitting one small group. It is creating hardship for all kinds of people in all walks of life, whether we’re talking about young people just heading out into adult or family life, or older people whose income drops at the very time when their need for support and the right kind of home increases.

“The housing struggle is also real for many of our key workers, who have to manage on less than generous wages, and for those who work 40 hours a week and still can’t manage without help. It’s real for those on precarious contracts that don’t guarantee them enough hours, and those who have lost savings, jobs and homes in the pandemic.

“And even if we personally aren’t among these people, this report shows how the whole country is suffering in some way from lack of investment in social housing.

“We all need these extra homes. We all need the economic boost, the new jobs and the investment in our communities that building them will bring. Everyone will benefit if we change this now.”

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