Hundreds of people waiting for social housing in Stroud are stuck in unhygienic, cramped or inadequate accommodation, new figures reveal.
The housing charity Shelter has expressed outrage at families across England left in desperate need while councils are “haemorrhaging” thousands of social homes.
Stroud District Council had 389 households on its waiting list who were identified as staying in unsanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory living conditions at the end of March 2019.
They formed part of 3,639 households on the list, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statistics – a 21% rise from the total number waiting a year previously.
The increase was smaller across England as a whole, where the number on waiting lists rose by 4%, to 1.2 million.
Of those, more than one in five were being forced to wait in substandard accommodation.
Meanwhile, Shelter said its own analysis of government figures showed there was a net loss of more than 17,000 social homes last year, with sales and demolitions outweighing new builds.
The charity is calling for investment in a new generation of social housing to be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Budget.
“With over a million families in desperate need of social housing, it is absolutely outrageous that we are haemorrhaging thousands of secure social homes every year,” said Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive.
“All the while families are forced to live in overcrowded conditions, single parents are making the impossible choice of eating or paying the rent, and children are growing up homeless in grim B&Bs.”
The number of households on council housing waiting lists has dropped by 34% over the last decade.
But Shelter said this was partly down to a change to the law in 2011, which allowed councils to set their own rules for who to accept onto them in the first place.
Government figures also show that, of all new social rent households with a known waiting time in 2018-19, 48% had been on the list for at least a year before securing a new home.
A government spokeswoman said 141,000 new social homes had been created since 2010.
She added: “Last year we delivered more homes than any year in the last 30 years and will deliver a million more in this parliament.
“We abolished the borrowing cap so councils can build more social homes, giving families the chance to find somewhere safe and secure.”