Council housing waiting lists could take 17 years to clear, report claims

It could take up to 17 years to re-house everyone currently on a waiting list for council housing, new data has revealed.

Analysis from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)’s Housing 360 data tools has found that, on average, over 1.2 million households were on council waiting lists across the UK between 2013 and 2018.

However, the number of council-owned homes reduced by around 84,000 during the same period – a drop of around 5% in England alone.

CIPFA chief executive officer, Rob Whiteman, said: ‘The extent of the UK’s housing crisis has been a known issue for quite some time, with government targets in place to build 300,000 new homes per year.

‘However, with many developers putting projects on hold as a result of the ongoing pandemic, this ambition will become increasingly more difficult to realise.’

According to CIPFA’s analysis, the number of households on council waiting lists dropped by 15% between 2013 and 2018, although this started to increase again in 2018n.

The biggest loss of council housing was in family-sized two- and three-bedroom properties, which also experienced the greatest growth in demand.

103,000 units of social housing stock were lost over the same six-year period, although the number of affordable stock increased from under 3,000 to almost 22,000.

Meanwhile, councils in England spent £663 million on homelessness in 2018 – an increase of 76% on the £376 million they spent in 2013.

While the figures indicate that council and social housing stock is dropping, the number of new build homes built by local councils is also increasing.

Councils built 4,834 new dwellings in 2018 – a 300% increase on the 1,289 built in 2013. This trend seems set to continue, as a recent NFA survey found council-owned housing companies increased their new-build housing targets by over 70% in 2019.

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