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Survey: Councils concerned by rise of homelessness and waiting lists

Words: Laura Edgar
Homelessness / Shutterstock_351803642

Homelessness and housing waiting lists will rise as government housing policies such as the Right to Buy develop, reducing the number of homes available to communities, suggests a survey.

Conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 350 English councils, the survey asked councils what impact government policies would have on their local area by 2020. The survey was sent to housing lead officers in all 166-stock owning councils in England in January.

According to the results, 90 per cent of respondents say reforms, including the extension of Right to Buy and cuts to social housing rents, would lead to a “drop in the number of much-needed council homes in their local area”.

Of the respondents, 78 per cent predict the reforms will increase the number of people who are homeless; 80 per cent say the demand for temporary accommodation will rise, and 81 per cent expect their council housing lists to increase as a result.

A decrease in the investment into estate regeneration and developer is expected to happen by 82 per cent of the councils that responded.

With the Housing and Planning Bill due to go to the report stage in the House of Lords on 11 April, the LGA is calling for councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts from any council homes they sell. They should also gain “greater flexibilities” to replace homes sold through the Right to Buy scheme.

Peter Box, housing spokesman for the LGA, 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.”

He said local authorities would then be “forced to sell” existing council homes and would “struggle” to replace them.

"Local authorities are keen to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need,” Box continued. The reforms would, though, make building new homes “all but impossible”, he said.

"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.”

The full report of the results is available on request from the LGA.

Image credit | Shuttershock