Acute housing need continues to rise

In March 2013, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published ‘Changes to Affordable Housing in London and Implications for Delivery’, a report written by Future of London. As part of its review of the London housing market, the report quantified acute need as a significant challenge. Since publication, updated statistics have become available that illustrate the continued rise of acute housing need in the Capital.

Although CLG regional data on the number of households accepted by local authorities as homeless is no longer publically updated, homelessness across England rose by 5.8 per cent in 2012 (see Table 771). In London, the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen for six consecutive quarters to the end of 2012, now at 38,860 households. London continues to account for the majority (73 per cent) of temporary accommodation in England (see Table 777).

Housing waiting lists have also continued their rise. Across London, the number of households on local authority waiting lists grew to 380,301 in 2012, an increase of 3.7 per cent from 2011*. This significant growth is a marked change from the slowed rate of increase experienced in other recent years. This comes at a time when some councils, trying to reduce their waiting lists, are tightening allocation policies to reduce the number of qualifying applicants. After being relatively consistent with the numbers on lists in Outer London, waiting lists in Inner London are particularly on the rise (illustrated below). On average across London in 2012, 11.6 per cent of households are on local borough housing waiting lists.

Source: Communities and Local Government (2012) Table 600: Number of households on local authorities’ housing waiting lists, by district, England: 1997-2012.

The absolute and relative size of housing waiting lists continues to vary widely across boroughs. Newham, despite reducing the size of its list by 3.3 per cent from 2011 to 2012, continues to have a waiting list for social housing far larger than any other London borough, with 30,975 households on their list. In 2012, waiting lists grew in 24 London boroughs, including Lewisham and Southwark which now join the top 10 London borough housing waiting lists, shown below.

Source: Communities and Local Government (2012) Table 600: Number of households on local authorities’ housing waiting lists, by district, England: 1997-2012.

This picture of acute housing need was presented in the JRF paper as one element of London’s housing landscape. The report also detailed rising demand and contracting supply, the rising cost of home ownership and of private renting, and London’s distinct tenure and household mix, to describe the unique housing market in the Capital. The report built on that housing landscape and an overview of Coalition housing reform to put forward implications for practitioners and policy-makers – and, ultimately, to call for a new, sustainable delivery model for new housing in London.

Future of London builds on this research with our current project on the use and viability of the Affordable Rent Model for delivering affordable housing in the Capital. This report, expected in Summer 2013, will in part discuss what an affordable housing programme post-2015 should be. This project continues tomorrow with our final research seminar.

*Two boroughs (Lewisham in 2010, and Hounslow in 2011) do not have numbers for housing waiting lists in their local authorities in the most recent CLG statistics; as such, total figures for those years are likely under-estimations.