Study finds few people on low incomes apply for social housing

A large number of people are “unrealistic” about their ability to buy a home, new research has said.

The study for the Housing Corporation and the Chartered Institute of Housing found only 15 per cent of households that did not own their home and earned less than £25,000 a year had applied for social housing. Most did not apply because they aspired to buy a home even though their incomes would not be enough to secure a mortgage in many parts of the country, the report said.

“This would seem to suggest that either a great many households are unrealistic about their housing options or that, although currently on low incomes, many believe that their incomes will increase in the future, or that they will have access to finance from other sources (such as savings, inheritance or assistance from family),” the study said.

The research found that only about a third of people who said they would like to live in social housing had put their name on the waiting list. The under 55s, low income households and families with children were the most likely to apply.

Belief that they were not a high enough priority to get housing put some people off applying for social housing while others were deterred by a perceived stigma attached to the tenure.

The total number of people moving into social housing declined steadily over the last five years because fewer people left the sector making homes available for re-letting. Waiting lists grew by nearly 50 per cent between 2002 and 2005 while the number of vacant homes dropped by 22 over the same period.

Housing Corporation chairman Peter Dixon said the paper was part of a series of eight looking at the demographics of affordable housing residents.