Rise in homelessness and housing waiting lists, LGA survey finds

Councils expect homelessness to increase and housing waiting lists lengthen, according to a survey published by the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA poll asked councils how the government housing policies would effect their local area by 2020 and received responses from 60 councils. 90 per cent claimed the reforms would lead to drop in the number of necessary council homes in their local area.

78 per cent predicted the reforms, including extending Right to Buy, cuts to social housing rents and Pay to Stay, will lead to a rise in homelessness, while 80 per cent said there would be a rise in the demand for temporary accommodation. 81 per cent warned there would be an increase in council housing waiting lists.

82 per cent of respondents maintained that investment in estate development or regeneration would decrease by 2020, with 58 per cent expressing concerns that housing benefit spending would increase as more people are forced into the private rented sector.

The LGA also warned that social housing tenants unable to afford market rents will need to be protected from the unintended consequence of Pay to Stay. It recommended that the policy should be voluntary for councils who should be allowed to retain any additional income generated to reinvest in new and existing homes.

Councillor Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said: "Our survey shows many councils fear some aspects of the Housing and Planning Bill will all but end their ability to build new homes by cutting billions from local investment in new and existing council housing. Local authorities will also then be forced to sell existing council homes and will struggle to replace them and many are warning this will combine to drastically reduce the number of homes available in local communities.

“Local authorities are keen to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need. Instead, housing reforms that reduce rents and force councils to sell their homes will make building new homes all but impossible. With 68,000 people already currently living in temporary accommodation, more than a million more on council waiting lists and annual homelessness spending of £330 million – there is a real fear that this lack of homes will increase homelessness and exacerbate our housing crisis.

"While private developers have a crucial role to play in solving our chronic housing shortage, it is clear that they cannot rapidly build the 230,000 needed each year alone. There is no silver bullet, but we will not resolve our housing crisis without a dramatic increase of all types of housing, including those for affordable and social rent alongside those to support home ownership. New homes are badly-needed and we will only see a genuine end to our housing crisis if councils are given the powers to get on with the job of building them too."