Revealed: North Somerset’s ‘scarce’ amount of social housing

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 July 2016

Terrace housing

Terrace housing

Steve Lovegrove

The availability of council housing in North Somerset is now so low that people in the greatest need are waiting for more than a year to get the keys to a new home – with the demand for homes greatly outstripping the number of properties available.

Figures obtained by the Mercury reveal there are 3,843 people on the council’s social housing wait list, while only 150 applications are approved every month on average.

Of this number, 2,105 people have been on the waiting list for more than 12 months and the average waiting time for people in the council’s highest priority housing band is 450 days.

According to the council, the problem is caused by a lack of available properties in the area and the authority says it is working with both registered social housing providers and private developers to provide a range of low-cost housing options to meet the demand.

A council spokesman said: “Mirroring a much wider national issue, the single greatest pinch point in the allocation of social housing is simply a lack of available properties.

“There are more than 3,500 households on the housing register in North Somerset and there are approximately 150 new applications approved every month. However in the last financial year, there were only 665 vacant properties, including a number of new-build properties at Haywood Village and Locking Parklands.”

The council also said it worked to get people in lower priority housing bands into privately-rented accommodation as social housing makes up less than 10 per cent of the district’s properties – a significantly lower figure than the 17 per cent national average. However, it also said it acted to get homeless people or those at risk of homelessness into social housing as quickly as possible.

The spokesman said: “Because of the scarcity of social housing, North Somerset’s priority when helping people is to get them into suitable, not necessarily social housing. Obviously there are some people for whom social housing is the only suitable housing for them, and they would be prioritised accordingly to give them the best chance of getting a suitable property when it becomes available.”

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