Housing list doubles in Cornwall as households struggle to meet rising costs

Cornwall Council say the number of people in private rentals who also need help has risen

The number of people registering for council and affordable housing in Cornwall has more than doubled in less than two years.

Cornwall Council has revealed that in March 2020 there were just over 9,000 households on its Homechoice Register but by January 2022 that had jumped to 21,200 households – an increase of 126 per cent. Latest figures for May 2022 show there are now 22,423 households registered on Homechoice.

The council has also revealed that the number of people in private rented accommodation who needed help after being given notice on their homes has also risen.

Approaches to Cornwall Housing from those given eviction notices has jumped 89 per cent from 1,143 in 2019 to 2,156 in 2021.

Between 2020/21 Cornwall Council spent £1.4million supporting people, including families with children Credit: ITV West Country

Some say that this has driven the current housing crisis with landlords deciding to stop renting out their properties and instead using them as holiday lets as demand for breaks in the UK increased dramatically during the pandemic.

Increased demand for private rental properties and a reduced supply is also driving an increase in rents. The average asking price for rents in Cornwall in March 2022 was £1,048 a month – a 26 per cent increase on the average level in 2019 which was £831.

The number of properties being listed for rent has fallen considerably – in March 2022 there were 317 new rental listings on Rightmove in Cornwall – that is 42 per cent less than March 2019.

The council has also revealed that a large number of people who are on housing benefit are now finding that their benefits do not cover their accommodation costs. There were 6,821 households in August 2021 who were claiming the housing entitlement of Universal Credit whose rent was higher than what they receive in benefits.

To help with this Cornwall Council funds discretionary housing payments for households – in 2020/21 the council spent £1.4million supporting people, including families with children.

The average house price in Cornwall also continues to rise and in March was recorded at £305,969.28 – this is higher than the average across England which stands at £297,523.69.

However the affordability gap – the estimated gap between the cost of local houses and how much people can afford to borrow – is much higher in Cornwall compared to the rest of the country. In Cornwall it stands at around £62,400 whilst in England it is around £42,300.

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter