One of the most popular topics that come to the table for discussion quite often is the UK property market. It is not easy to control the real estate business at any cost. In the last few years, the number of housing units has gone down steeply due to the excessive demand from people in the UK and abroad. The estate agents in Rainham and other boroughs of London started facing pressure from the buyers’ side. The property market saw a massive fall during the 2019 lockdown due to the increase in unemployment that affected multiple businesses and the overall economy of the UK. To get the business on track, the stamp duty holiday was introduced in March 2020 and was extended for over a year.
People started flooding into the buying business all over, which uplifted the real estate business in no time. Over the years, people have exhausted the number of properties to the stretch, that not more than two properties are up for sale in a month. New builds will not emerge for a while, which will make the situation even worse.
Besides the private properties available for rent or sale, council housing has been a saviour for the homeless and other people who fall under the vulnerable category. Council housing is the housing units built by the local councils and the government for people who cannot afford private rentals or properties. Most of them who prefer living in social housing are those who find it challenging to find a home, have poor living conditions, or suffer from inevitable medical conditions that cannot be tolerated in their present accommodations. Most of the council blocks in the UK were built a few decades ago that are still in use. Not many council housing units are being constructed with the ongoing property crisis.
POPULARITY OF COUNCIL HOUSING
Council housing is the homes owned and run by the UK Council where people can rent houses that are more affordable compared to the private lets. Council housing was begun in the early 1900s when the government planned and executed its housing plan. Several changes took place with the overall structure of council housing. In the last few decades, the council has focused more on regenerating old homes than building new ones due to insufficient funds from the government. The main aim of introducing council homes was to provide cost-effective homes for people with housing needs. With time, the demand for council homes only grew exponentially. People applying for a council house will be put on a waiting list. Considering the immediate requirements and many other influential factors, people are provided with a council home for rent as soon as it is available.
CURRENT STATUS AND AVAILABILITY
Compared to other countries, the UK still lags behind in the number of council homes. About 150,000 homes were constructed in the 1950s that gradually came down in number with every passing year. Council homes have gained more demand due to the rental rates being lesser than the market rate. There were about 4000 new council homes in the last year that were filled with tenants within a short period. With the never-ending waiting list of people for council homes, the local authorities have planned to put up a minimum of 2000 council homes by the end of 2022. The availability will entirely depend on how many new units will emerge in the coming years. People will get their homes through council housing only when their turn comes on the waiting list.
WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Applying for a council home is a long process besides hunting for one. Getting qualified is the first step where authorities would run multiple background checks to verify certain information. To get qualified for council housing support:
- Applicant’s income range must fall under the specified threshold.
- The staying duration of expats must be on a long-term basis.
- Should have an actual need for social housing.
- The current place of living should be overcrowded.
- Remain dependent on rent supplements to meet the accommodation requirements.
The person must fill in the application form and submit it to their local authorities. Within 12 weeks, the application will be assessed thoroughly by the local officials. Once everything is verified, the applicant will enter the waiting list and acquire a home based on availability. If the housing application gets rejected, the authorities must give a clear explanation for the same.
HOW TO INCREASE COUNCIL HOUSING STOCK
The number of housing units built by the local council depends on the budget allocation for this purpose by the government. To compensate for the future requirements, about 150,000 Council homes need to be allocated in the UK annually. Achieving this feat is not as easy as it sounds. The council must be allowed to borrow funds and fulfil at least half the quoted number for the housing needs. Government should provide additional financial support separately for council housing. Landowners must sell their lands at a fair price to detour the council from overspending, and thereby this will increase the overall property value making it an outrageous deal for people. Planning a cost-effective property venture is very crucial and provide people with value for money. To pull off such a big assignment, the council must be equipped with the best-in-class professionals like accountants, architects, designers, planners and more.
NEED FOR HOUSING STOCK IN THE FUTURE
Not many new builds have emerged dedicated to council housing in the last decade. Properties that were built several decades ago do not go along with the preferences of present-day tenants. Currently, the council is focusing on improving the homes by regenerating them. With the demand surpassing the supply, there is no other way for the council but to build new housing units to compensate for this imbalance. Council housing continues to help thousands of people to escape homelessness and provide a budget-friendly residence. This is attracting more people to apply for council housing and will continue to increase tremendously in future.