A mystery London borough is said to have “recently” dropped 19,000 people off its social housing waiting list, as some people in the capital wait more than 25 years for cheaper housing.
The figures were revealed in answers to questions filed to the City of London Corporation’s Court of Common Council about the length of the capital’s social housing waiting lists amid its “housing crisis”.
However, the Corporation has declined to identify which London borough removed the housing hopefuls from its waiting list.
The details emerged following questions put to community and children’s services committee chairman, Randall Anderson, by Councilman Rehana Ameer on June 21.
She asked about action taken to house the 655 people still on the Corporation’s social housing waiting list at the beginning of this financial year.
Among them, 53 had been waiting more than 10 years, 91 between five and 10 years, and 231 between two to five years, Cllr Ameer said.
Cllr Anderson responded that priority was given to the unintentionally homeless, people with physical or mental issues made worse by their current housing situation, domestic violence victims and people in unsafe accommodation, and people experiencing severe overcrowding.
“High priority” needs applications were almost always offered a property within a year, and some within a matter of months, he added.
“Of the 10 households registered on the waiting list for the longest time – three have never placed a bid; five have made only a small number of
bids; one will only consider properties on one estate and one has already been offered and turned down three properties,” Cllr Anderson said.
Applicants with low need were typically already housed within the private sector or were living with parents, he added.
He said the Corporation’s social housing waiting list was London’s smallest, compared to those provided to him by other boroughs who responded to his questions – citing waiting lists of 25,000 in Newham, 18,000 in Tower Hamlets and 12,000 in Hackney.
He also mentioned one borough had recently removed 19,000 hopefuls from its waiting list “on the grounds that they would, in reality, never be housed”, but did not identify it to the council. The Corporation’s press office also did not answer questions about the identity of the borough.
The City of London Corporation is a social housing landlord and manages 12 housing estates across the Square Mile, as well as six London boroughs.
Cllr Anderson said the City had a total stock of 2,000 homes, so only a limited number became free every year, with 87 vacant in 2016-17 and 74 in 2017-18.
Working with neighbouring authorities and the Greater London Assembly, the Corporation has a programme under development to deliver 700 new social homes by 2025, as well as 3,000 affordable homes.
The Corporation is committed to doing its part in “solving the London housing crisis”, a spokeswoman said.
“The housing shortage in London is one of the most pressing social and economic issues that the capital faces.
“As well as providing accommodation to households to whom we owe a legal duty, we also give some preference to lower income City workers.
“Our allocation of social housing is based on a range of mainly statutory factors that prioritise those with the greatest need and the most vulnerable.
“We provide high quality permanent housing for those with the greatest need as quickly as possible and equally high standards of temporary accommodation.”
Cllr Ameer said she was pleased to see the Corporation taking action on social housing.
She said she believed the length of wait for social housing in the capital should be publicly highlighted, and urged City leaders to investigate why social housing development appeared to be moving slowly in central London.
“The strategy is there, the alignment with the Mayor of London’s housing strategy and plan is there. But I struggle to understand why, when we have a vision of building 3,500 homes, why do we have to wait until 2025, when there is institutional funding available?”