AMBITIOUS plans to slash the number of people waiting for a council house in Barnsley have been revealed – after a report showed more than 10,000 are currently on the list.
A staggering 79 per cent of the 10,539 people were new applicants, with the remaining 21 per cent classed as existing Berneslai Homes tenants.
It’s an increase from March 2022 – when 9,524 were waiting – but a report into the situation, which was discussed at full council yesterday, shows a plan to reduce the figure to as low as 3,315 by December.
Coun Robin Franklin, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “The waiting list numbers had increased in 2023 before the review as the regular quarterly re-registration process had been paused.
“This process normally results in high numbers of cancelled applications for the lowest priority bands.
“In March 2023, we reviewed 615 out-of-district applicants with no local connection to the borough.
“Most people did not return their reviews and all remaining applicants will be cancelled in December 2023.
“We have around 1,000 new applications which are awaiting registration.
“We are contacting people with low priority – approximately 700 people – to ask them if they want to continue with their application considering supply and demand and the new policy provisions.
“High priority, new applications are prioritised for processing within 20 days from receiving all required evidence.”
To help address demand, the council is currently building 52 new homes across four sites in the borough which are all due for completion in the 2023/24 financial year.
There is a ‘clear intent’ to build more homes to be managed by Berneslai Homes in the future, but the review warned the extent of the building programme is dependent on the amount of funding available.
It’s estimated that those who are seeking a one-bedroom house will have to wait for a total of 585 days – the highest figure in the last decade.
Two-bedroom and three-bedroom properties are also similarly high – standing at 569 and 704 days respectively.
For one-bedroom properties, Monk Bretton, Athersley South and Mapplewell are among the most-sought after areas in Barnsley.
Berneslai Homes bosses have said that they receive on average 260 bids for each house they place on the market – while they only receive 50 bids for every flat.
Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “Like most areas the demand for council housing in Barnsley is more than the supply available and in March this year, Barnsley Council approved a new lettings policy to make the best use of the council stock and allocate homes to those in most need.
“The new Barnsley Homeseeker Scheme, which is effective from December 2023 and being implemented by Berneslai Homes on behalf of the council, also aims to give suitable advice to applicants with low or no housing need, who have a limited chance of being rehoused.”