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Council house waiting lists are not working effectively, according to an independent research report published toda...
Council house waiting lists are not working effectively, according to an independent research report published today by the Department of the Environment.

Increasing numbers of homeless families are being given council housing faster than those on the waiting list, despite having similar characteristics. The report, 'Routes into Local Authority Housing', also shows that waiting lists are often poorly managed, pointing to a need for more effective reviews of applicants' requirements for housing.

It identifies how new tenants obtain their housing, and provides information about the characteristics of people on local authority waiting lists and of those allocated tenancies.

Commenting on the report, Housing Minister Sir George Young said: 'These findings confirm our view that a review of access into local authority housing is now due. Our proposals are set out in the consultation paper, 'Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies'.'

The report confirms that the overall proportion of lettings going to waiting list applicants has decreased since 1986, with an increasing proportion going to homeless acceptances. There is considerable overlap between those housed through the homeless route, with homeless acceptances often having previously been on the waiting list.

'Local authorities generally divide their waiting list into groups and half treat some groups outside the general waiting list - most commonly the statutory homeless.

The report highlights some key changes in the characteristics of waiting list and new tenants since 1986. The average age of both waiting list applicants and new tenants has decreased since 1986 and they are more likely to be households with dependent children and less likely to be already responsible for a home.

The report shows that, despite regular reviews of waiting lists by local authorities, waiting lists are poor indicators of housing need and often fail to record applicant's preferences.

Under half (43%) of those recorded on waiting lists are applications from people still living at the registered address and who currently want local authority housing, while only two in five local authorities formally recorded an applicant's interest in being nominated to a housing association.'

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