The Department for Communities and Local Government’s latest local authority housing statistical update, shows that there were 1.77 million households on local authority housing waiting lists across England on 1 April 2008, an increase from 1.67m at the same point a year before.
The overall figure had increased from 1.04m in 1999 to 1.77m in 2008.
The Local Government Association estimates that the nearly 1.8m households contain 4.5m people, equating to one in 12 of the population.
Paul Bettison, Local Government Association housing spokesman, said: “Even when the economic good times were rolling, councils saw ever increased pressure on their social housing stock.
"Now that the credit crunch is upon the country it appears that many thousands more people will be looking to councils to provide them with a permanent home as they either find it impossible to get on the housing ladder, unable to afford private rented housing or see their home repossessed.
“With more households joining the ever increasing social housing waiting list over the seven years, experience has taught us that demand will grow even faster. Although house prices are falling, they are still beyond the reach of many.”
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said: “Worryingly, today’s figures show a widening gulf between local authorities’ supply of social housing and demand pent up in their waiting lists. This leaves people in limbo in often sub-standard temporary accommodation.”
The statistics also show that the number of dwellings owned by English local authorities has fallen from 3.18m in 1999 to owned 1.87m last year.
But the number of local authority dwellings across England failing the decent homes standard has fallen from 617,600 in 2007 to 489,400.