Steep Rise For Social Housing Waiting Lists

Prospective MPs comment on "chronic lack of affordable homes"

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The number of households on social housing waiting lists in London has risen dramatically, according to the National Housing Federation.

The Federation, which represents over a thousand independent housing associations, says that in Hammersmith and Fulham, the number of households waiting to be housed increased by 1,278 between April 1, 2008 and April 1, 2009 – the seventh highest increase out of all London boroughs.

Waiting lists rose in 21 other London boroughs, including Kensington and Chelsea (by 403 households) and Richmond upon Thames (by 1,309 households), but fell in 11 boroughs, including Westminster (by 119 households) and Hounslow (by 1,246 households), according to National Housing Federation data.

The Federation says the steep increase has been caused by a “chronic lack of affordable homes” in the capital. Federation chief executive David Orr said: “With record housing waiting lists and overcrowding reaching epidemic proportions in many places across the country, the need for more affordable housing has never been greater.

“The three main political parties must demonstrate their commitment to helping the millions of Britons in desperate need of an affordable home by pledging to safeguard investment in housing – and giving it the same priority as health, education and policing."

We asked our local parliamentary candidates to give us their views:

 

 

 


Shaun Bailey

Conservative Party

 

 

 

 

Andy Slaughter MP 
Labour Party

Portrait of Merlene Emerson.

 

 

 


Merlene Emerson
Liberal Democrats

I grew up in social housing and I still live in a shared-ownership flat. I know what it's like to live in overcrowded housing and to be on a housing waiting list. The word 'stressful' doesn't quite cut it.

Some say, 'Lets just build more social housing', but this won't solve the waiting list issue. This 'quick fix' approach is what leads to the building of sink estates that destroy families. Also, there are many people who don't qualify for social housing, so simply building more won't help them. Part of the solution is to develop mixed housing, which includes social housing as one of the options, but not the only option.

There's a wider issue here. Under Labour, the number of people living in dependency has gone through the roof. We need a government that helps people take control of their own situations and to provide for themselves, rather than being forced into situations where they need to rely on the government so the government can rely on their votes.

 

It is no surprise that Hammersmith & Fulham has one of the worst records on housing waiting lists in London. The Conservative council has set out to reduce the amount of affordable housing in the borough by every means possible.

Proposals to demolish housing estates could see the council's stock reduce by a third. Some small estates have already been demolished. Several hundred units of social housing approved under Labour have been handed back to developers. Property sales have so far included over 60 units of temporary accommodation and a number of council street properties. And of course they refuse planning consent for any new affordable homes.

To offset the recession in the building industry billions in Government grants is available, but Hammersmith & Fulham refuse funds for new council or housing
association developments. A Labour council will reverse these policies and build the homes local people need.

 

Reports that 1,278 more households (8,492 in total) have been added to the H&F waiting list for social housing comes as no surprise.

Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has failed to meet his election pledge to build 50,000 more affordable home across London whilst here in H&F, the Council has been exposed for their plan not to increase the number of affordable homes for the next 15 years, creating a chronic shortage that will get worse year on year.

The housing problem is not insoluble but it does require political will. We need for a start to bring the long term empty properties in the borough back into use. The renovation work will at the same time give a much needed boost to our local economy.

We must then ensure a significant percentage of new developments will have an affordable home component to keep pace of local demand.

According to the National Housing Federation, a record 1.97 million households are expected to be on waiting lists nationally by 2011.

Belinda Porich, head of the Federation’s London region, said: “There is a real danger that many people will simply give up hope of getting anywhere unless there is a dramatic increase in the number of new homes being built.

“Thousands of families on this list are stuck in overcrowded accommodation. London has the highest proportion of homeless families in the country and nearly 7% of households are overcrowded – more than 2.5 times the national rate. The capital is in desperate need of larger, good quality, affordable homes.”

The Federation say their figures are based on data provided by local authorities to the Department of Communities and Local Government.

29 March 2010