Hundreds left in unsanitary homes in North Somerset as they wait for social housing
PUBLISHED: 07:25 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:17 13 February 2020
Hundreds of people waiting for social housing in North Somerset are stuck in unhygienic, cramped or inadequate accommodation, new figures reveal.
North Somerset Council had 488 households on its waiting list who were identified as staying in unsanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory living conditions at the end of March 2019.
They formed part of 3,418 households on the list, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statistics - a slight decrease from the 3,443 waiting a year previously. The opposite pattern was seen across England, where the number on waiting lists rose by 4 per cent, to 1.2 million.
Of those, more than one in five were being forced to wait in substandard accommodation.
An investigation by charity Shelter revealed a net loss of more than 17,000 social homes last year, with sales and demolitions outweighing new builds.
The charity is calling for investment in more social housing. Shelter's chief executive Polly Neate said: "With over a million families in desperate need of social housing, it is absolutely outrageous that we are haemorrhaging thousands of secure social homes every year.
"All the while, families are forced to live in overcrowded conditions, single parents are making the impossible choice of eating or paying the rent, and children are growing up homeless in grim B&Bs."
The number of households on council housing waiting lists has dropped by 34 per cent over the past decade. But Shelter says this is partly down to a change to the law in 2011, which allowed councils to set their own rules for who to accept onto them.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "The figures come from information supplied by those applying for housing through our Homechoice service.
"If serious defects come to light our Housing Standards team will inspect and take the necessary to get the faults rectified."
A government spokeswoman said 141,000 new social homes had been created since 2010.
She added: "Last year we delivered more homes than any year in the past 30 years and will deliver a million more in this parliament. We abolished the borrowing cap so councils can build more social homes, giving families the chance to find somewhere safe and secure."