Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Real EstateUK

Council facing ‘unprecedented demand’ for social housing

social housing

There is an average of 100 bids for each council property when it becomes available, but in some cases there have been more than 400 bids for a home

Wigan council is facing ‘unprecedented demand’ for social housing with hundreds of bids for homes and the waiting list growing 69 per cent in two years.

The local authority has received 2,450 homeless application since April 2020 with 424 people in ‘urgent need’ of accommodation still waiting to be housed.

As of last week, there were 9,654 households on Wigan council’s waiting list.

More than 5,000 of those are waiting for a one-bedroom council property.

There is an average of 100 bids for each council property when it becomes available, but in some cases there have been more than 400 bids for a home.

One council home which became available last year received 502 bids in total.

The waiting list has grown 69pc since 2018 and the council is anticipating a further 559 households may face evictions when protections will be lifted.

Around 13pc of council housing tenants are currently in rent arrears of more than seven weeks and the number claiming Universal Credit is up by 1,938.

Housing policy and reform manager Stef Alsop explained to councillors on Tuesday (January 26) why the local authority finds itself in this situation.

She explained that there has been a ‘major drop’ in the number homes the council owns within the borough over the last 20 years, falling from around 37,000 to just over 21,500, due to the Right To Buy introduced decades ago.

In 2020, 816 tenancies were terminated, down 34 pc from the year before.

With fewer people leaving council homes, fewer homes become available.

The council manager also highlighted the impact of Covid on jobs and income.

She told the housing advisory panel that affordability is ‘key’ and that the ageing population means different types of accommodation may be needed.

But the council is also looking towards the private sector and the thousands of empty homes in the borough as part of its strategy to tackle the housing crisis.

She said: I think what we’re seeing really is the need to maximise all housing avenues going forward, whether that be home ownership, private sector – not just council accommodation.

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