Thousands in Leeds still waiting on register for council homes

Almost 1,600 people have been on the register for a council home in Leeds for more than a decade and the total number has increased on last year.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 8th December 2016, 7:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:36 pm
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Housing charity Shelter said 600 children in the region will be without a home this Christmas Day and campaign group Hands Off Our Homes – Leeds said the figures could be a “massive underestimate” of the problem.

A freedom of information request by the YEP showed that a total of 1,575 people have been on the register for more than 10 years and the total number has increased from 23,926 in autumn last year to 24,275 this year.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Faced with a severe shortage of affordable homes and an overwhelming number of families coming to them desperate for help, it’s sadly unsurprising that over-stretched councils are struggling to find homes for all those who need them.”

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Leeds City Council said the register was not a waiting list and people listed had to actively bid for homes to be considered.

It said only half of the total number were actively bidding for homes.

But campaigner Ellen Robottom, from Hands Off Our Homes – Leeds, said appropriate housing may not be available, the bidding system was “harsh” and some people were too despondent to believe they stood a chance of getting a council property.

She said: “You may be 
sitting on the waiting list a long time if there is nothing suitable there. We shouldn’t assume there is a constant flow of homes that would suit people’s needs.

“It is quite a harsh system. Some might say it offers more choice but some people will have complex needs or chaotic lifestyles. If you are already in a difficult situation it is not that easy keep to bidding.

“People are aware that their chance of getting social housing is very limited and there are those who don’t even go on to the register because they feel they would be wasting their time.

“In some ways the figures are a massive underestimate.”

She said Leeds’ housing stock consisted of many two-bed properties but relatively few one-bed properties and some people on the register may be trying – with little success – to downgrade to avoid paying the bedroom tax. She said: “If you go around door knocking and ask about the effects of that tax it is heartbreaking.”