Thousands on waiting list for council house

Ashfield Homes manages Ashfield District Council's property portfolio.
Ashfield Homes manages Ashfield District Council's property portfolio.

Nearly 7,000 people in Ashfield and Mansfield are currently on the waiting list for a council property according to figures released by Ashfield Homes.

Though not all of these are actively searching for a property all of the time, the enormous figure gives some indication of the huge demand for social housing in this area.

Chad requested the numbers under the Freedom of Information Act and they showed that of the 6,829 live applicants on the housing register, 856 are current Ashfield Homes tenants and 5,973 are non-tenants.

Bosses at Ashfield Homes say that they receive between 50 and 60 new applications for the register each week and that the register itself is predominantly made up of single people (around 44 per cent) and families with dependent children (37 per cent).

“The number does steadily increase,” said Kelly Scott, director of housing services at Ashfield Homes.

“The position at the end of March 2013 was that we had just under 6,000 people on the register, so it’s gone up by just under 1,000 this year.”

Mr Scott said that many people on the register are not currently bidding for council properties on the choice-based lettings website or telephone line but are on it for when they might need to be.

“People go on the register but they don’t actually bid. They go on for a bit of future security or to make sure they are registered on the list for a few years’ time, for example young people who are living with their parents now,” he said.

Ashfield Homes manages 6,893 properties for Ashfield District Council and lets out in the region of 600 properties a year on average.

Its most in-demand type of accommodation is two-bedroom flats and houses and though three-bedroom properties are also popular, welfare reform and the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ has affected this category.

Ashfield Homes is developing a scheme whereby incentives will be offered to tenants who are currently under-occupying their properties, encouraging them to move into smaller homes.

“It will help to make better use of the housing stock, as ideally we do not want people under-occupying two or three bedroom properties,” said Mr Scott.

Around 450 tenants are also registered for the company’s Homeswapper scheme, which matches people who can exchange properties.

“We are trying to encourage that as best we can with the onset of bedroom tax because we have not got enough stock for everybody who wants to downsize,” he said.

The average rent for living in a council property in Ashfield is £67 per week and 70 per cent of tenants are on some form of benefit.

Though the time that people are waiting for a home will vary according to individual circumstances, such as the priority rating for rehoming them, and on the properties that become available, it is also often due to their own methods of selecting where they want to live.

Said Mr Scott: “If people are very specific about where they want to move to, they are going to wait longer.

“In popular areas it’s less likely for properties to become vacant so we want to encourage people to widen their choice as much as possible to increase the chance of getting the move.”