A total of 88 people put bids in for just one social house in Boston, with the strain set to increase as demand for homes in the borough grows.
Figures showing long-term housing issues will be discussed by Boston Borough Council’s cabinet next Wednesday as they weigh up the authority’s tenancy and lettings policies.
The numbers show there are currently 2,488 people on the housing waiting list, with an average waiting time of one year 88 days, and a maximum number of bids of 88 for one home in 2011/12.
Government figures predict the total number of households in Boston will jump from 27,300 to 31,600 by 2033. There is expected to be a big rise in the need for single person homes, rising from 6,900 in 2001 to 12,000 in 2033.
MP Mark Simmonds says the numbers prove there is a need for development in the borough – but said councillors will need to plan it carefully, with no need to put up tower blocks, changing the nature of the town completely.
He said: “I don’t think you can just freeze Boston in aspic, we need to allow it to grow.
“We don’t want great swathes of new council estates, it needs to be balanced and appropriate. It must be done with local priorities and not overriding from outside.”
The strategies look at shorter tenancies and working with housing associations – which operate the borough’s social housing – to make best use of the current housing stock.
The news comes after the Government introduced a ‘bedroom tax’, which cut benefit to social housing tenants with unused bedrooms in a bid to discourage ‘under-occupation’
Borough housing portfolio holder Coun Mike Gilbert feels people may find their own ‘creative’ ways to make better use of current homes, including sharing, which may be better than waiting for the government to act.
He told The Standard: “Two elderly people could, for example, move in together, thereby avoiding having to pay the bedroom surcharge and reducing the likelihood of being lonely and needing support.”
He said just building more homes would bring its own problems, adding: “That’s the elephant in the corner that politicians do not want to talk about. If you do provide a home for everybody who needed one then you would be concreting huge greenfield sites and we need those for the production of food.”
Matthew Spittles, Boston Mayflower’s Director of Operations, said: “Whilst it is the local authority that manages the housing register, Boston Mayflower does recognise the increasing need for homes locally which mirrors the national position of there being a shortage of affordable accommodation for people in housing need.”