Households in the two main areas where our customers live could wait up to four years before being allocated an affordable social home. That's even if no new households joined the waiting list, according to new analysis of the latest affordable housing figures.[i]

Ahead of the government election, figures from the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that thousands of people are on the social housing waiting list in Amber Valley and West Northamptonshire.

In Amber Valley there were 1,932 households on the waiting list for social housing, yet only 502 new social housing lettings were available last year (2022-23). In West Northamptonshire there were 4,534 people on the waiting list and 1,177 homes actually available.

At the current rate of lettings, and if no new households joined the list, it could take another 3.85 years before every household currently on the waiting list can move into a suitable home that they can afford, in both areas.

Social housing lettings are homes let at either social rent, which is typically half of market rents nationwide, or Affordable Rent, which is at least 20% below market rents – making them the only affordable option for many. Across the country, the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable social homes has left many families stuck in unaffordable, unsuitable accommodation, cut off from local support networks, far from school or job opportunities or even facing homelessness. 

The effect this has on those on low incomes is devastating. The shortage of affordable homes in these areas means that more and more people are forced to live in expensive, insecure and often poor quality private rented homes. This has left many facing impossible choices as they struggle to balance rent with other essential bills, or risk facing homelessness. New research from the Financial Conduct Authority shows that 7.4 million UK adults are struggling to pay bills.[ii] 

Last year (2022-23), for every new social home built in England, six households were accepted as homeless by their local council[iii], while more children than ever before are living in temporary accommodation. [iv].

This shameful trend is also putting local councils under increasing financial pressure with councils spending £1.74bn to support households in temporary accommodation in 2022-23.[v] This is only set to worsen, with recent research revealing that the number of children living in temporary accommodation is estimated to reach 150,000 by 2030.[vi]

The widening gap between the demand for social housing and availability in Amber Valley and West Northamptonshire is the result of decades of underfunding and underinvestment in affordable homes by successive governments. This in turn has led to a chronic shortage of social housing and contributed to the housing crisis we’re in today. 

But this is a crisis that can be solved. Housing associations such as Futures are ambitious to do more to tackle this crisis, but it will take a long-term commitment from local and national governments to address. With a long-term plan in place, by 2035 we could: fix child homelessness; halve overcrowding; provide the security of a social home for one million more people; ensure a warm and decent home for seven million more families; improve affordability; and boost productivity by ensuring every region has the homes it needs to grow. 

As the government election grows closer, access to affordable housing has become increasingly important among voters, with over half of Brits saying that the government should prioritise building social housing.[vii]

Futures is joining the NHF’s call for political parties to commit to a long-term national plan to solve the housing crisis to support the thousands of households in Amber Valley and West Northamptonshire in desperate need of a safe, suitable and affordable home. 

Ceri Theobald, Group Director of Strategic Partnerships & Growth at Futures said: “Every day, out in the community, our teams see the impact that the housing crisis has on people across the East Midlands. The soaring cost of living means that many of those already in ‘affordable’ homes are struggling. And we know from working with our local authority partners and our own outreach work that many who are currently excluded from social and lower-cost homes are at breaking point. We need a long-term, nationwide commitment to tackle this national scandal and give people the crucial foundation of an affordable home that they need to succeed in life.” 

[i] DLUHC, Social housing lettings in England, tenancies: April 2022-March 2023
[iii] National Housing Federation - New homeless households outnumber new social homes by six to one
[iv] DLUHC, Statutory Homelessness Statistics, July-September 2023
[v] £1.74 billion spent supporting 104,000 households in temporary accommodation | Local Government Association
[vi] National Housing Federation - Nearly five million households will live in unaffordable homes by 2030
[vii] National Housing Federation - Conservative voters support building social housing over homes for sale