THE BLOG

Britain Is in the Depths of a Social Housing Crisis

22/05/2016 21:35 | Updated 22 May 2016

The social housing crisis Britain faces today isn't just about the chronic shortage of council and housing association homes. It's about people.

It's about people worrying about their future, as more and more households are unable to rent or buy without help.

It's about 1.2 million people in England alone on social housing waiting lists, struggling to provide sufficient accommodation for themselves and their families. With nearly 100,000 social housing properties in the UK being occupied by someone who shouldn't be there - it's also about those people who are actively abusing the system.

With parents who both grew up on council estates, I understand the difference social housing can make to people's lives. My parents were able to use this as their start in life. A solid base with which to focus on their futures.

When I was a teen, myself and my family went through some difficult times. Business developments that were out of their control took a turn for the worse, which led to us desperately trying to work out how we'd survive this new phase of our lives. The big question being 'just how are we going to keep a roof above our heads?!'

Thankfully, our situation improved in time but it left me with the stark realisation that a home is one of, if not THE most important thing a human being can have. Right now, families in genuine need are being deprived of this not only because of the housing shortage but because of those who actively choose to defraud the system.

As the housing crisis worsens, it seems there's really no limit to the levels that some people will go to cheat the system. Within this year's series of Council House Crackdown, some of the case studies myself and Luke Doonan have come across are truly shocking.

By law, a social housing property must be used as a tenant's main and principal home.
In one case we see a man who obtained not one but three social housing tenancies, whilst also part owning two other properties. Added to this, it was also found that he'd been unlawfully subletting the three council houses and pocketing a small fortune.

Then there is the case of one woman who claimed to have an income of less than £18,000 to get her council house in Bristol. In reality she was living comfortably in Nottingham earning over £30,000 a year whilst illegally subletting the Bristol council property. She also failed to mention that she owned two other properties, one of which she'd purchased using the right to buy scheme.

Another case sees a man involved in multiple illegal sublets using three different identities.

The housing investigators' continued mission to crack down on tenancy cheats is what eventually stopped all these individuals in their tracks and allowed the council to deliver the homes back to people who really need them.

In this year's series, I really hope to shed yet more light on just how important it is for council and housing association homes to be given to deserving families.

The housing investigators hard work and ingenuity is what will really start to turn the tide in the battle against tenancy cheats and hopefully have a positive impact on Britain's social housing crisis. However, with housing shortages, people abandoning their homes and those cheating the system - this is clearly not an easy task.

Michelle Ackerley hosts Council House Crackdown starting on Monday 23rd May at 9:15am on BBC One

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