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Covid-19 is set to double council housing waiting lists

Words: Huw Morris

Council housing waiting lists in England could nearly double to two million households next year because of the economic impact of Covid-19.

Research commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Retained Council Housing and National Federation of ALMOs warns rough sleeping, homelessness and sofa-surfing are likely to spiral in the coming months.

The organisations maintain that a post-pandemic building boom of 100,000 social homes for rent each year is needed to meet this demand and deliver a £15 billion boost to the economy. This would be the equivalent to more than half of the entire annual economic performance of Birmingham.

As well as meeting a third of the government’s target of 300,000 homes a year, the research said this would help to realise its ambition to ‘level up’ the country. It would also help the ailing building industry, which is forecast to have lost 1.3 million worker-years of construction by 2024 as a result of lockdown and social distancing on development sites, by supporting 89,000 jobs and adding £4.8 billion to the sector.

The LGA is calling on the government to use this week’s Spending Review to allow councils to resume their historic role as major builders of affordable homes.

“With the number of people on council housing waiting lists set to double, it is absolutely vital that we build more housing for social rent,” said LGA housing spokesperson David Renard.

“Building 100,000 social homes for rent a year would bring significant social and economic benefits, from tackling our housing crisis and reducing rising levels of homelessness to wiping millions off welfare bills and improving people’s health and wellbeing while alleviating the pressure on health and social care.”

Building Post Pandemic Prosperity is available here.

Image credit | Shutterstock