Housing waiting lists could double next year

Councils should be given the powers and funding to build 100,000 social homes for rent each year, says the Local Government Association.

New research from the Building post-pandemic prosperity repot shows that 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.

Published by the Local Government Association, the Association of Retained Council Housing, and National Federation of ALMOs, the report sets out the case for building 100,000 green social homes for rent each year as part of the recovery from coronavirus, to deliver net zero housing and ‘level-up’ the nation.

The report 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 coronavirus-related support schemes winding down and a potential increase in homelessness.

Council leaders are urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak 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.

The research claims that more than 100,000 fewer new homes will be built across all tenures by 2023 than would have been the case without the pandemic. 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.

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.”

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