Council house queue grows to 1.5m families


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May 24, 2005
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Council house queue grows to 1.5m families

The number of families in England waiting for a council house in which to live has soared by more than 50 per cent during Labour's time in power and now stands at 1.5m, official figures reveal.

The South East and London, which suffer from a severe shortage of affordable housing, have experienced the largest increases, up by 77 per cent and 71 per cent respectively since 1997.

Across England, the number of households on the housing register has risen from 1,019,475 in 1997 to 1,548,083 - a 52 per cent jump - according to parliamentary answers to questions asked by the Liberal Democrats.

As only one new social housing unit is built for every five sold off under the right-to-buy scheme, the supply of council properties for families on the waiting list is dwindling every year.

'These figures reveal the massive scale of the housing crisis in this country,' said Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrats' shadow to the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. 'With house prices so high that home ownership is just a dream for most people, more and more people are turning to councils for help in finding a home. But every year there are fewer and fewer affordable homes for the people who need them.'

More homes needed to be built and more of the 700,000 council properties currently lying empty put into use, Teather added. 'Families shouldn't have to face spending years on the waiting list just to get somewhere decent to live.'
The number of families waiting for a council house has gone up by as much as 2,424 per cent in Hertsmere, Hertfordshire, and 666 per cent in King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Denis Campbell, social affairs correspondent
Sunday November 13, 2005

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