Commenting on these latest figures, Mr Shapps argued that councils must be given the flexibility they desperately need to better ease the housing pressures their communities face.
The figures come just a week after the Government published details of the most radical reforms to social housing for a generation, including:
– giving social landlords the option of offering flexible tenancies – with decisions made locally
– allowing councils to set their own rules about who qualifies to go on housing waiting lists
– making it easier for any of the eight million social tenants in England to move when their circumstances change
– more flexibility for councils to make decisions on how best to help people at risk of homelessness at the local level; and
– allowing housing associations to offer a new affordable rent tenancy from April 2011.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
"Today’s figures underline the clear and pressing need to change the way social housing operates in this country. It is unacceptable that five million people are left languishing on waiting lists.
"So the first thing we’re going to do is build more homes using a new flexible rent approach. Next, councils and housing associations must have the flexibility they so desperately need to better tackle local housing pressures. That’s why I have announced plans for the most far-reaching and radical reforms for a generation, from the option of fixed tenancies offering help for new tenants for as long as they need it, to extra help for existing tenants to move to a new social home.
"Under these plans, landlords will be able to properly assess and meet the needs of both their new and existing tenants, and no longer struggle through the failed ‘one size fits all’ approach."
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