The news that Sheffield tops the UK waiting list league for houses is a big cause for concern. However it may not be as bad as the headlines suggest. According to Mark Hookham in the Star “The number of families registered as waiting for a council house in Sheffield is higher than any other local authority in the country. A total of 87,773 households are recorded by official government figures as waiting for social housing in the city last year. This represents almost 40 per cent of the total number of households in Sheffield.
In contrast, there are 87,565 households waiting in the whole of Greater Manchester, 40,697 in Merseyside and 24,780 in Leeds. But the figures include tens of thousands of families who have historically registered for local authority housing but who are no longer actively looking for accommodation… A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “Sheffield maintains a policy of having an open housing register. The housing register is not the same as a waiting list. So, whilst there are over 80,000 people registered, less than a quarter of this number are actively seeking rehousing.””
This doesn’t mean we can be complacent. According to Shelter there are 287 families currently homeless in Sheffield. Since 2000 house prices have risen four times faster than wages. Nearly two thirds of Sheffield households are priced out of the market and the number of people accepted by the council as homeless is growing year on year. In the renovation of Park Hill, 80% of the properties will be turned into luxury flats which most of the people living there will not be able to afford. Meanwhile, Sheffield Homes continue to perform badly on their Decent Homes Investment Project. Owner-occupiers and leaseholders are being left out, the quality varies a great deal between different areas and some basic repairs and improvements are not included in the project.
What is the Green Party doing?
·Pushing the Council to repair leaky roofs and walls under the Decent Homes scheme.
·Calling for a full review of the council’s lettings policy to make it fairer and more transparent.
·Calling for the repair and renovation of council properties.
·Helping to develop planning guidance requiring at least 15% affordable housing in all large developments, while continuing to push for 40%.
·Lobbying to keep the current programme of tenancy support services in place, and for more sheltered accommodation for vulnerable people.
·Pushing the Council to give advice on insulation and grants to all householders.