A social housing crisis in Newham?

12 Aug

According to an FOI reply delivered on 31 July the number of people waiting for a council house in Newham massively exceeds the total number of properties available. There are 17,535 social housing properties in Newham; and 24,544 households currently on the waiting list.

As the council itself admits the average waiting time for a 2-bedroom house is 13 years. Even for a bedsit the shortest waiting time is over 7 years.

Demand for social housing is extremely high in Newham and there are currently thousands of households on our housing register. The majority of people who apply will never be housed. [emphasis added]

Applicants at the back of the queue are likely to be permanently resident in the City of London cemetery long before Newham finds them a home.

So you would think that a major priority for the council would be building as many new homes for social rent as possible. But, as another FOI response (see page 23 of the linked Word document) makes very clear, that isn’t happening:

How many social homes for rent have been built in your local authority area since May 6th 2010? 6

How many social homes for rent to be built in future have, at this point in time, both planning permission and financing in place? None

Not that Newham isn’t building new homes. A council owned 500-home development on Stratford’s Leather Gardens estate, which will consist of a mixture of one and two bedroom flats, has been given the go-ahead. These will be offered to Newham residents as “affordable rented homes.”

If the scheme is successful Newham will create a local authority company tasked with acquiring or building more than 2,000 homes for “affordable rent” over the next decade.

Note that these homes will be for affordable rent, not for social rent. And they won’t be let directly by the council to households on the waiting list, but by an arms-length company operating as a private landlord.

There is a desperate need for social housing in Newham, but the council has decided instead to become “a player in the private rented sector” (to quote Councillor Andrew Baikie).

That is not a priority I would have normally associated with a Labour council.

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One Response to “A social housing crisis in Newham?”

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  1. Newham Finds Housing for Single Mothers–in Manchester ‹ Hovelled - October 16, 2013

    […] the total number of council properties in the entire borough 17,500. The council itself admits the average waiting time for 2-bedroom house is 13 years. Even for  a bedsit, it’s seven. Recent changes to […]

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