WARRINGTON’S housing shortage has left more than 3,480 people on the waiting list for social housing, it can be revealed.

The Under One Roof system is operated by Torus on behalf of Warrington Borough Council (WBC) and other social landlords, who have social housing stock in the area.

There are currently 3,482 active applicants registered with Under One Roof and in need of housing – which includes people who want to move from their existing home.

Each application represents a household which can consist of a single person, couple or family.

Out of those who are registered, 51 per cent require a one-bed property, 34 per cent two bedrooms, 12 per cent three bedrooms and three per cent four or more bedrooms.

And there are currently 244 applications that have been identified as in urgent need for housing and placed in band one.

It includes applicants who are living in ‘unsuitable’ conditions, as well as where properties are overcrowded by two or more bedrooms, where people are homeless, or those who need moving into suitable housing from temporary accommodation or refuges.

The council insists its priority is to keep working with the town’s most vulnerable people to find them suitable accommodation.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, executive board member for public health and wellbeing, said: “Social housing waiting lists are an issue across the country and not just in Warrington.

“People need homes that are affordable – with tenancies and landlords they can trust – and these are becoming harder and harder to find in the current economic climate.

“On the one hand, there are those who are struggling on low or unstable incomes, some, but not all, supported by universal credit or other welfare payments.

“On the other hand, our strong economy in Warrington creates a demand for housing that means private landlords are able to increase their rents over and above inflation rates – and turn down prospective tenants who may rely on universal credit.”

Despite the huge waiting list, Cllr McLaughlin insists the authority is doing ‘everything in our power’ to ensure everyone who needs accommodation gets it.

“In this difficult climate, more and more people are applying for a housing association property,” she said.

“At the same time, fewer housing association houses are becoming available, partly because people are living longer and staying longer in their homes and also because there is a continued loss of some stock through Right to Buy.

“These factors mean there is an increasing pressure on housing associations to provide enough stock to meet demand.

“It is important to note that people join social housing lists for a number of reasons – this may include wanting to change location, wishing to move nearer to a relative or wanting to move from a flat into a house or bungalow.

“However, we know that there are currently 244 applications that have been identified as in urgent need for housing and a further proportion of applicants are currently living in overcrowded households.

“We know that only 771 housing association properties have become available in Warrington in the past year and, in particular, there is a shortage of two-bed properties, of which only 238 became available last year.

“We are continuing to work hard to meet the challenges around housing shortage.

“For example, our draft Local Plan proposes that 20 per cent of all new homes built in inner Warrington and 30 per cent elsewhere in the borough are affordable, with a good proportion of these for affordable rent managed by housing associations.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, has highlighted what he believes is the way forward.

Warrington Guardian:

He said buying back Right to Buy properties from private landlords should be part of the solution.

“The provision of safe and secure housing for those in emergency need is a paramount responsibility of local councils,” he added.

“Clearly Warrington, while performing relatively well, still has unmet need from those in most need.

“To deal with this, the stock of short-term rental properties must be increased as part of the council’s investment programme.

“A community land trust to remove land costs from the most affordable housing and strict application of affordable housing ratios on new developments should all be part of the solution to our emergency housing problem.”

Under One Roof started operating in March last year.

It replaced choice-based lettings system Choose a Home, which had 3,200 members.

A Torus spokesman said: “Torus continues to have a high demand for stock in the Warrington area and we currently have 33 properties either undergoing repairs or in the offer and sign-up process.

“These will be allocated according to WBC’s housing policy.

“All applications for homelessness are investigated and assessed by WBC’s housing plus team.”