Special report: Crisis in Northamptonshire council housing

Volunteer Anjina Seroye and Mike O'Gorman, chief executive of Ella Lets social housing enterprise
Volunteer Anjina Seroye and Mike O'Gorman, chief executive of Ella Lets social housing enterprise

With thousands of residents scrambling for social housing as demand far outstrips supply, people have been warned the situation will only get worse.

In what makes bleak reading for the north of the county, latest figures show that Wellingborough Council received 73 bids for every advertised one-bed flat, while other authorities recorded the same demand.

Residents who want council accommodation in Wellingborough, Corby or Kettering can sign up to the council’s housing register and can bid on property as it becomes available.

Last week, there were 3,200 applicants on the list in Wellingborough, but only 10 properties available.

Vicki Jessop, Wellingborough Council’s housing manager, said: “There is simply not enough housing to cover the demand, and this is only going to get worse as more people find themselves in need of help.

“We’d encourage people to come and talk to us as soon as they can so that we can get them on the register and talk through their options.”

In Kettering, there were 2,997 people waiting with only 15 homes available.

Claire Humphrey, 34, of Hertford Road, Kettering, said: “I’ve been waiting for new accomodation for four years now.

“I’m needing a three bedroom house as my daughter is getting older and needs privacy but the council say I can only move when she becomes 10 next spring.

“I’m on the housing register and bid every week, but I won’t get the property. It’s a sham.”

Last week, there were 3,600 residents on Corby’s list, while in 2011-12, 43,000 people bidded for a property, but only 576 were successful.

In Kettering, there were 22,472 bids for property in 2011-12, but there were only 689 available properties.

The council received 22 bids for each one-bed flat.

But housing bosses say they are to tighten up their application process so people have more chance of getting the housing they need, and they encourage house moves if it works for residents of both properties.

John Conway, head of housing, said: “There is a real need for social housing, especially for one-bed and two-bed properties. We’re trying to make our stock work as best we can.”

A report out this week from the Housing Federation also paints a bleak picture for private renters.

Home Truths 2012, a study of England’s housing market, claims monthly rents will rise on average in Northamptonshire from £523 in 2012 to £802 in eight years’ time.

The federation claims in East Northamptonshire, monthly rent will go from £552 in 2012 to £846 in 2020 – an increase of £294 per month. In Wellingborough, average rents will go from £488 to £749 per month – an increase of £261.

Kettering will have a similar £260 increase as rents are predicted go from £487 to £747.

Corby will see the lowest increase at £254 per month, with rents going from £476 to £730.

Sheila Hawkes, director of Ashan Property, in Kettering, said: “I have noticed that prices of good quality property has raised a little, but not a lot.”