More than 1 million families are stuck on waiting lists for social housing in England as the number of council homes in Britain slumps to a record low.
Figures from the housing and homelessness charity Shelter show that a total of 1.15 million households were on waiting lists last year, with only 290,000 homes made available, leaving a national shortfall of more than 800,000 homes.
Almost two-thirds (65%) of families had been on lists for more than a year, while 27% had been waiting for more than five years.
In Newham, east London, 25,729 households were on the waiting list last year, with only 588 social homes available. In Brighton and Hove there were 24,392 families on lists, and 949 homes available.
Shelter said the gap was caused by a lack of newbuild social homes, and many existing homes being sold off through the right-to-buy scheme and not being replaced.
Polly Neate, the charity’s chief executive, said the fact that some survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire were still homeless a year on from the disaster had “totally shaken people’s trust in the safety net the state supposedly provides. Imagine, then, how frustrating life must be for the millions of people elsewhere in the country who have been stuck on waiting lists, often for years on end. This is not just confined to London but happening right across the country, from Brighton to Blackpool. Families are unable to get settled and unable to get on with their lives. The Grenfell tragedy must mark a turning point in our nation’s approach to social housing and its tenants. We clearly need a bold new plan for social housing so families are not condemned to waiting lists but given safe, secure and affordable housing as quickly as possible.”