High housing costs are a significant issue affecting affordability, both in Hackney and the City of London. Over 30% of respondents (all tenures) to the 2014 Hackney housing needs survey said that housing costs are either ‘difficult’, ‘a strain’ or ‘just manageable’ (see Figure 3).  The greatest levels of reported difficulty are found in the private rented sector, followed by social housing.

Figure 3: Manageability of rent or mortgage charges in Hackney (2014)A

Figure 3: Manageability of rent or mortgage charges in Hackney (2014)

Source: Hackney housing needs survey, 2014

Note: Overall 9% of respondents report that they do not make rent or mortgage payments in Hackney. By area this varies, the percentage by area are as follows; Homerton = 8%, Shoreditch = 3%, Stoke Newington = 12%, north-east = 15%

National government reforms of social housing and the welfare system have exacerbated problems of affordability in Hackney in particular (see Box 2 of this section).  For many households who are renting locally, a significant proportion supplement their employment income with state benefits and tax credits – for example, 80% of households in the social rented sector and 20% in the private rented sector are supported by Housing Benefit.

As described in the Health and Wellbeing Impacts of Housing Tenure section the social rented sector houses a large number of local people.  In Hackney and the City of London, the council allocates social housing to applicants on a housing register, both for homes becoming available in its own stock and for homes managed by housing associations within the borough. The latest data available are for 2014/15 when, through its Choice Based Lettings System (see Box 4), Hackney Council provided permanent accommodation for:

  • 377 ‘urgent’ households (including those with serious medical conditions, overcrowding, and under-occupiers who can free up larger properties)
  • 687 ‘priority’ households (including homeless families)
  • 147 ‘general’ applicants (affected by minor overcrowding, ‘non-priority homeless’, and ‘general needs’).

As of January 2016, there were 11,189 households on Hackney Council’s social housing waiting list, a slight increase on the year before. The projections for applicants likely to be eligible for urgent and priority need categories decreased for 2016/17, and rose for the general needs category. 1

Box 4: Allocating social housing in Hackney and the City of London

Allocation of social housing in Hackney is managed through a Choice Based Lettings System, with individuals using an online system to apply for available properties that suit their household size, budget, and personal preferences.B

Applicants are prioritised into categories according to their assessed need, and homes are allocated to households in the highest priority band and to those who have waited longest for a property.

A similar scheme is used in the City of London, also based on the Choice Based Lettings model.C As with the Hackney scheme, once registered on the Housing Register, applicants are assessed, put into a housing need band and awarded reasonable ‘preference points’. Residents can then apply online for available properties.

In the City, a total of 781 households were registered on the Corporation’s general needs Housing Register as of October 2016. Of these, 166 are current tenants seeking a transfer and 615 are on the waiting list.  The majority of applicants require studio (327 applications) or one bedroom (163 applications) accommodation.  Almost 300 applicants require family-sized homes, but these are in much shorter supply.

The City commissioned a Strategic Housing Market Assessment in 2016, which predicted a net deficit of 69 affordable homes per annum in the period from 2014 to 2036. 2

Notes

  1. For housing management purposes the borough is separated into 4 neighbourhood areas. These are listed here http://www.hackney.gov.uk/housing-offices
  2. ‘Bid for Properties’ http://www.hackney.gov.uk/hackneychoice
  3. ‘How the City of London prioritises applications’ https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/housing/looking-for-a-home/Pages/housing-register.aspx

References

  1. Hackney Council, “Lettings Plan 2014/15,” 24 March 2015
  2. G. L. Hearn, “City of London Strategic Housing Market Assessment: City of London Corporation,” June 2016.