A new report has highlighted the “surging” demand for social housing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 5% of the 26,000 properties analysed receiving 500 bids or more.
The Home Connections report – delivered in partnership with the Policy Institute at Kings College London and Campbell Tickell – compared demand for social housing properties in the year before and the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
High-demand areas such as Lambeth in London, where a private-rented property is three times more expensive than comparable and neighbouring social housing properties, attracted the highest number of bids.
Properties with one bedroom in Lambeth received an average of 1,040 bids.
The report’s authors say the analysis reveals “alarming” changes in demand for social housing properties since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Further, they found “unmistakable” evidence of increased demand for bedsits and one-bedroom properties since the pandemic, indicating more households without children were looking for social housing during the pandemic.
They say this finding also potentially confirms speculations that enforced togetherness has contributed to increase in domestic abuse and family breakdowns.
This is reflected in patterns of homelessness, the report says, with the number of single households who were statutorily homeless increasing by 11.7% between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
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On the pressure faced by English councils, especially those in London, Annie Field, Policy and Research team manager at Campbell Tickell, said: “The new research by the Local Government Association warns that council housing waiting lists could double by next year.
“This would further exacerbate the mismatch between the demand for and supply of social homes identified in our report, particularly for areas where demand already outstrips supply astronomically.
“Our research found that demand for social housing was four times higher in London than in any other region.
“If the number of households on London’s council waiting lists doubles, this problem will only become worse, unless urgent steps are taken to increase the number of social homes in the capital.”
Ninesh Muthiah, founder and CEO of Home Connections, said: “The government should embark on a massive social housebuilding programme to ensure more people get an affordable home which truly meets their needs.
“By affordable housing, we mean social housing and not the near market-rent housing which remains unaffordable for most people on social housing waiting lists.
“Understanding what people want from their homes, what guides their choices, is essential to delivering new social housing properties that can truly match the demand.”
Image credit: Ethan Skyes/Unsplash
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