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Average wait on Torfaen’s Homeseeker for a home is 18 months: Welsh Conservatives say more social housing needs to be built in Wales

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Figures given to the Welsh Conservatives following a Freedom of Information query show the average wait for people on Torfaen’s Homeseeker register to get a home in 2021 was 18 months.

Homeseeker is the county’s website that advertises social housing homes from the area’s landlords. Applicants register and then choose what homes to apply for.

New figures, covering the period from the start of this year to June, show that this had increased to 21 months during the first half of 2022. The Welsh Conservatives say they illustrate the need for more social housing in Wales.

Torfaen Council spent £275,012 on temporary accommodation during 2021/22.  That included £167,295 spent with private landlords and £107,717 on putting individuals and families up in bed and breakfasts. 

A spokesman for the council said during 2021/22 it housed 437 individuals or families in temporary accommodation with “only a quarter of these spending longer than six months” in what was intended to be short-term place to stay.  

The spokesman said: “Access to additional temporary accommodation has been sourced to prevent costly out of borough placements and to ensure that links to education, employment and support networks can be maintained.” 

The council said during the last financial year it provided advice to 198 individuals and families at risk of being made homeless with 98 cases able to remain in their homes and 89 cases found permanent accommodation. 

It is also working with private landlords to “widen access to housing” and it has developed “rapid rehousing plans” to prevent homelessness. 

Figures are ‘skewed’ by applicants ‘rejecting offers’ or ‘waiting’ as it’s a ‘choice-based scheme’

In response to the FOI request Torfaen Council also stated the average wait includes all applicants, regardless of their need, and the figures are “skewed” by its “choice-based scheme” as some applicants may be rejecting offers or waiting before bidding for a property. 

Welsh Government figures show during 2021-22, the number of new homes started increased by 31 per cent to 5,659 dwellings compared to 4,314 the previous year. 

Of those completed 5,273 were built by the private sector with 810 built by registered social landlords and 72 by local authorities. 

At the 2021 Senedd election Welsh Labour said it built 20,000 affordable homes from 2016 to 2021 and promised to build a further 20,000 new, “low carbon” homes for social renting. 

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Average wait on Torfaen’s Homeseeker for a home is 18 months: Welsh Conservatives say more social housing needs to be built in Wales