Birmingham’s Labour council is considering closing its social housing waiting list to new applicants - and this is likely to trigger a surge in demand for private renting.
In September last year the council ceased all non-essential spending, issuing a Section 114 notice - formal admission it can no longer balance its books and is effectively bankrupt.
Now the Birmingham Mail newspaper says the council has encouraged those in housing need to look at all options, including applying to housing associations and considering the private rented sector. The council said it has more than 23,000 households on its housing register, as well as 11,000 applications to the register that are yet to be assessed.
The authority says it is currently reviewing its services including the social housing register.
A council spokesperson has told the Mail: “Before final decisions are made, we will ensure that a route remains for exceptional circumstances to be considered.
“The council will continue to provide information, advice and guidance to households in housing need, including on how to approach other social landlords and help available to secure a home in the private rented sector".
The council's website warns: “Joining the register may not result in you being housed quickly or in your preferred area or property type.”
Meanwhile new government figures for England as a whole show a net loss of 16,000 social homes last year, as sales and demolitions exceeded the number of homes built.
The figures show 25,749 social homes sold or demolished last year in England, yet just 9,500 social homes were built – a net loss of 16,188 homes.
In the past decade there has been a total loss of 181,213 social homes, despite 1.28m households in England being stuck on council waiting lists for a social home.