Millions 'Stuck' on Waiting Lists due to Nationwide Housing Shortage

Millions ‘Stuck’ on Waiting Lists Due to Nationwide Housing Shortage

New numbers show that there are more than a million households on waiting lists for social housing in the United Kingdom, potentially blocking people from accessing their rights.

While not a formal part of our human rights, having somewhere safe to call home touches on some of the most fundamental aspects of our lives.

From education and dignity to health and family life, having a home is inexplicably linked to our rights – and a nationwide shortage inevitably spells problems for our rights.

Laying Bare The Nationwide Housing Shortage

Households on the waiting list

Image: Edd Church / Infogram

While the slow re-housing of survivors from last year’s Grenfell fire disaster highlighted the issues with social housing in the UK, figures from the charity Shelter suggest the problem is far wider than we may first expect.

It’s an issue which touches some of the most vulnerable in our society, leaving some driven to temporary accommodation or even homelessness as a result.

What’s more, as we’ve previously reported, about one in two-hundred people are homeless or living in inadequate housing. This latest report highlights how some of the remedies to the housing crisis just aren’t working.

Millions ‘Stuck’ on Waiting Lists

Newham Statistics

Image: Edd Church/Infogram

The new stats show that roughly 290,000 social homes became available in 2017, but with 1.15million households waiting for housing this has not been enough to satisfy demand.

Merton, the City of London, Newham, and Kingston upon Thames had the worst ratio of households-to-available social lettings, with more than 30 households to a single home.

In Newham, there were just 588 available lettings compared to the 25,729  households who need rehousing, with other London areas facing a similarly large mismatch. Redbridge, for example, has as many as 26 households to a home, and Islington 20 – the latter lacking some 17,000 homes.

The situation outside of London isn’t much better, with many people facing long waits. Shelter reports that Brighton and Hove currently faces more than a 23,000-strong gap between those waiting and the number of homes available.

Not only is there a huge deficit in housing, but almost two thirds (65 percent) of households had been on the waiting list for more than a year, with more than a quarter waiting for more than five years.

A Year After Grenfell, the Problem Persists

Image Credit: Natalie Oxford / Twitter

Speaking about their findings, Shelter’s CEO Polly Neate suggested that the fall out from the Grenfell tower disaster was both a particular concern, as well as having shaken people’s trust in the system.

“Some survivors are still homeless has totally shaken people’s trust in the safety net the state supposedly provides,” he said. “And this is despite them being ‘fast-tracked’ outside the usual waiting list system, too.”

Many survivors, for example, have not been rehomed yet. Some have been offered accommodation which is unsuitable or doesn’t meet their needs, like those who have since developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Grenfell case is a call for particular concern. And this is despite them being ‘fast-tracked’ outside the usual waiting list system too.

Polly Neate, Shelter

Clearly, many households – containing families and vulnerable people – are without safe and comfortable dwellings.

Shelter’s numbers are a reminder to us all that more must be done to increase access to safe homes for everyone.

Featured Image Credit: Gary Campbell-Hall/

Help us increase understanding and support for human rights in the UK.

About the Author

Edd Church

Edd is a University student and journalist interested in reporting on human rights issues across the UK including those of class, race, and gender. He also enjoys listening to podcasts in his spare time, alongside recording his own content for student radio. View all posts by Edd Church.
Millions ‘Stuck’ on Waiting Lists Due to Nationwide Housing Shortage
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