Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 19:17 UK

Social housing 'at crisis point'

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Waiting lists have grown in the last five years

Almost 500,000 people are waiting in a queue for social housing in the North West of England, a report says.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) says they are on lists which have grown by 75% in the last five years - more than anywhere else in the country.

The NHF said the high demand was a result of high house prices which many families could not afford.

Homeless charity Shelter said the problem had reached crisis point and more needed to be done.

Despite the rising numbers of people seeking homes, the amount of properties being made available to housing associations is falling.

Times are so difficult now we need radical action
Martha Hannan, Shelter

NHF Spokeswoman Sallie Bridgen said: "There's been an increase of about 75% in the last five years in people on the housing waiting list.

"This is because of the dramatic increase in house prices which salaries have not kept pace with, but also a declining amount of social housing.

"We've lost around 10% of social housing in the last five years due to right to buy and that's double the national average."

The length of waiting lists is rising despite housing associations - which the NHF represents - building more houses to meet the government's target of an additional 45,000 every year.

But Martha Hannan, of Shelter, said the problem had reached "crisis point" and more ideas were needed to address the issue.

"Maybe one of the solutions is to look at private properties which haven't sold and are lying empty - so long as those properties meet the standards that families on the waiting list for social housing need to find," she told BBC News.

"Times are so difficult now we need radical action.

"We've been in crisis for the last several months and it is only going to get worse with prices rising and unemployment forecasted.

"There is real difficulties on the horizon and we need to take action now if we are going to address this problem and stop people falling into homelessness and poor housing."


SEE ALSO
Home sales at lowest for 30 years
09 Sep 08 |  Business

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