Havering council home list grown 274%

SHOCKING figures show the number of people waiting for social housing in Havering has increased almost 300 per cent in just over a decade – far greater than the London average rise.

At the last official count Havering Council had 5,666 households signed up to its social housing register, compared to 1,511 in 1999 – a rise of 274 per cent.

The number of people signed up has increased steadily over the last 10 years. By 2005 3,477 households had joined. By 2010, when an audit was done to remove anyone who had found housing from the list, the register contained 5,666 households. A household can be made up of more than one person.

Havering’s increase dwarfs those for both London and England, which each saw rises of below 60 per cent in the same 10-year period.

Havering’s rise has been attributed to a number of factors, including the lack of availability of mortgages, difficulty in finding private rented properties, and the attractiveness of lower rents in the borough, where the average gross income of �29,000 is lower than that of both outer and inner London.

Those wanting to move into social housing in Havering join a register and are prioritised by need. They then bid for properties which are either owned by the council or housing association building where the council has the right to nominate who moves in.

The rise in people on the register was revealed in a report considered by Havering Council’s cabinet on Wednesday as it discussed next year’s budget.

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In looking at the rise the report said Having was “likely to see a strain on budgets in terms of demand for social housing”.

Once a person has joined the housing register the onus is on them to make bids, meaning some can wait much longer than others for a property they feel is suitable for them.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Lesley Kelly said: “We are doing all we can to provide affordable housing in the borough.

“Over the past three years we have provided 840 new affordable homes, exceeding our agreed target of 800 homes.

“We have also recently secured funding for 150 new affordable homes to be built on unused and derelict garage sites. “Added to this, we have brought 250 empty private sector properties back into use over the last year. We are committed to providing housing and will continue to work with residents and housing associations to meet local people’s needs.”

But housing charity Shelter criticised the council for providing a lack of affordable housing.

Kay Boycott, director of campaigns, policy and communications, said: “With 1.8 million households on housing waiting lists,