South Tyneside Council fighting to stem housing waiting list nightmare

Council homes in Lincoln Road, South Shields
Council homes in Lincoln Road, South Shields

More than 1,500 people are stuck on the waiting list for social housing in South Tyneside, while the number of affordable homes is falling, according to new figures.

Housing charity Shelter is calling for the Government to increase the funding for new social homes.

The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows that, in March 2018, there were 1,659 households on the housing waiting list in South Tyneside - 59% fewer than two years earlier.

Of those, 142 were households with some medical necessity, while a further 21 were homeless.

A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said: “The council provides approximately 17,000 homes for social rent. This means that one in four of all homes in South Tyneside is available for social rent.

“The council continues to lose homes through the Right to Buy but we are delivering around 100 new affordable homes each year and will continue to do so.”

She added: “The housing register is not a waiting list. It is choice-based scheme which is used to provide applicants with access to available properties that would meet their housing need following an assessment.

“More than 85% of people on the register are not in a priority need category for rehousing.

“We continue to work with partners to intervene early and prevent homelessness and in the last year have prevented 1164 people from becoming homeless.

“Vacancies in South Tyneside are low particularly in council housing. At any given time there will be a number of transactional empty properties, where they are being prepared to be let or are in the process of being let.

“It is important that the housing market provides a mix of property types at a range of prices to meet the varying needs of our residents.”Across England, more than 1.1 million families were on council waiting lists – six per cent fewer than in 2016.

Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said: “When you compare the number of households waiting with the tiny number of available homes, and the trickle of new social homes being built, you understand how chilling today’s housing crisis is.

Coun Martin Tett, housing spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: “A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding is the only way to boost housing supply and tackle the housing waiting lists many councils have.”