There are now almost 23,500 applicants on the list, after the council decided not to close its housing register last month

Birmingham City Council’s social housing waiting list has grown to almost 23,500 live applications, following its decision to keep the list open last month.

Birmingham Council House

Source: Google Maps, Birmingham Council House in Victoria Square

The number of households on Birmingham City Council’s housing waiting list has risen to almost 23,500

The current backlog of applications awaiting assessment before they can be added to the housing register is 10,358.

According to a report on housing and homelessness compiled by the housing cabinet minister, councillor Jayne Francis, about 63% of these applications have surpassed the target assessment period of eight weeks.

The report, which is scheduled for discussion in a city council meeting today, reveals that in 2023/24, the council received an average of 447 housing applications per week, while completing an average of 490 assessments.r

However, the council is only able to allocate between 2,000 and 3,000 social homes per year on average.

The backlog of applications is attributed to “historical recruitment problems and a consistently high number of applications”.

In February, the council announced that it was considering closing the housing register to deal with the backlog of thousands of applications for council homes. 

It said that the proposal was not linked to it issuing a S114 ‘bankruptcy’ notice in September last year.

In March, the council made the decision to keep its housing register open, despite previously considering closure “in response to the overwhelming demand for housing”.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said that though closing the housing list would have helped to tackle the backlog, “we recognise how important it is for citizens to be able to apply for a home. On this basis, our housing register will remain open to new applications, and we will do all we can to keep it open.”

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The report also highlights that in the 12 calendar months to March 2024, 3560 properties were let via its letting system, the Birmingham Choice scheme.

Just under 31% of all allocations were made to households owed a homelessness duty.

There are approximately 7000 households on the housing register with a Band A award, which is the highest priority. Of these, almost 5000 households were awarded Band A due to a homelessness duty being owed.

The council has said that it is recruiting additional staff to tackle its application backlog.

The council is also building new social housing at new sites, including Gressel Lane and the Bromford Estate.

Construction is also beginning at Long Nuke Road, Highgate Road, Kings Norton Primrose estate, and Highfield Road. In addition, the council is delivering two regeneration schemes in Druids Heath and Ladywood.

A spokesperson said: “To accelerate the delivery of affordable housing, surplus land held by the council is being sold to registered providers. This is an existing commitment of the Housing Strategy 2023-2028, encouraging partners to build in Birmingham. Sites are being sold on the open market for a planning policy compliant mix of tenures, ensuring 35% of the homes are affordable on sites of 15 dwellings or more”.

Due to the scale of the housing crisis, the council has acknowledged that the current rate of house building will still not meet the demand for homes.