17 years to sort council housing waiting list, new analysis reveals


It could take up to 17 years to re-house individuals and families on the waiting list for council housing, data analysis by CIPFA reveals today.

Data trends extracted from CIPFA's Housing 360 show that, on average, there were over 1.2 million households on council waiting lists nationally between 2013 and 2018. However, over the same period, the number of council-owned homes reduced by around 84,000, a reduction of nearly 5% in England alone.

The analysis also found that the amount councils in England spend on homelessness rose from £376m in 2013 to just over £663m in 2018, an increase of 76%.

The biggest loss of council housing has been in family-sized two and three bedroom properties. These properties also experienced the greatest growth in demand, indicating this is area of supply where there is a particular shortage unless future development is planned in line with need.

CIPFA CEO Rob Whiteman said:

"The extent of the UK's housing crisis has been a known issue for quite some time, with government targets in place to build 300,000 new homes per year. However, with many developers putting projects on hold as a result of the ongoing pandemic, this ambition will become increasingly more difficult to realise.

"CIPFA's new Housing 360 toolkit provides councils with both the reflective and predictive data models needed to plan for the medium to long-term as the full impact of coronavirus on the sector becomes apparent."

Housing 360, from which this analysis derives, is a suite of new tools from CIPFA that pool an extensive range of housing data, allowing both historic and predictive analysis, to support local authorities in addressing and meeting local housing needs and better understanding their housing resilience.

Richard Norris, Senior Finance Manager of Housing, Central Bedfordshire Council, said:

2The main issue with existing benchmarking tools is the dependence on individual authorities submitting their own data, meaning stats can be inflated or supressed to project a certain view of performance.

"In Housing 360, the data can't be distorted, giving a more reliable view of how we're performing against similar organisations. It also makes the data accessible, allowing directors and councillors to extract what they need to make vital decisions on housing in our area."

For further information please contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5737 or E: ashleigh.moore@cipfa.org

Our full analysis of national housing trends can be found here: National Housing stats.pdf

In 2018, the government announced it would scrap the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap on council housing investment, with the intention to provide extra borrowing headroom to support local authorities to build more houses, contributing to the 300,000 per annum target.

The tools included in CIPFA Housing 360 are:

Housing scorecard

  •  A measure of resilience. Contains both financial and non-financial measures - designed to keep the HRA and the housing service in check.

Housing Interactive Profile 

  • Based on statutory data returns such as; HRA, Local Authority Housing Statistics (LAHS), Revenue Account Outturn (RO) and Capital Outturn Return (COR4).
  • Provides an interactive dashboard enabling comparisons against over 80 different sets of performance indicators using LA’s and sector groupings to analyse and compare various historical performance trends.
Housing Future Resources Model 
  • Projects HRA financial resources forward to 2026, underpinned by CIPFA’s trend assumptions.  The model can help all English local authorities who have responsibilities for providing social housing to project across to 2025/26.

CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money. 



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