Housing stock owned by Local Authorities, they are building but…

There is a lot of concern in Kilburn, and understandingly so, about the availability of Social Housing.

There is also a large PR drive from Councils to highlight their achievements regarding their supply of Social housing.

In 2017, for example, Brent Council committed to build 1000 New Council homes in 5 years between April 2018 and March 2023 to shorten the housing waiting list.

So what are the numbers?

In the 5 years between 2018 and 2023, the number of Council owned housing units hasn’t changed much:

  • Camden -716 units (from 23449 in March 2018, ie -3% )
  • Brent +297 units (from 8005 in March 2018, ie +3.7%)

What has changed is the make up of the Council owned housing stock

In March 2018 almost all the Council owned housing stock was for renting at Social rent level. However there has been a dramatic change in Brent where the number of units not attracting “Social Rents” has increased. See table below

non social rent stock owned by local authority
March 20182018/20192019/20202020/20212021/20222022/2023

While Camden owns a very small amount of housing units not at social rent levels, Brent Council now owns 520 properties not let at social rent levels or 6.3% of its portfolio and the growth in the number of this type of housing offer has grown exponentially compared to the growth of the housing portfolio.

Thus while in Brent there was on increase of 3.7% in total owned housing units, there has been a decrease of housing units owned at a social housing rent level. See below.

Social rent stock owned by local authority
March 20182018/20192019/20202020/20212021/20222022/2023change

Let’s look now at how many council owned housing units have been built versus demolished.

Number of demolitions of stock owned by local authority
2018/20192019/20202020/20212021/20222022/2023Total 5 years
Number of new builds by local authority
2018/20192019/20202020/20212021/20222022/2023Total 5 years

Brent Council built in the 5 years period 752 housing units or 248 short of the self imposed target of 1000, mentioned above. Both Councils very much fail to mention the demolitions they have undertaken in their PR:

  • Camden Council demolished 120 homes more than they built!
  • Brent built 752 new homes but demolished 219.

What about vacant Council Properties?

It is completely normal that there are vacancies in any property portfolio at any one time due to simply the moving of tenants and the letting process. So we will look only at what the Councils declare as “Vacant, not available to let” properties, ie properties that will not help with the reduction of the housing waiting list. These properties typically are awaiting demolition or redevelopment. There are plenty of those in South Kilburn!

Number of vacant units not available to let owned by local authority

There has been a sharp increase in the number of “not available to rent” properties, creating further pressures on the Council housing waiting lists. Very often those properties have been “decanted”, ie Social tenants have been moved out to make way for redevelopment. This further reduces the amount of available properties at Social rent.

So we will assume that all those are social rent levels and look at the impact of these long term vacancies on the number of actually available social rent units in both Councils

Social Rent stock let or available to let


Yes both Councils are building but what are they building? Are they building the right time of Housing ie Social rent housing units

Yes both Councils are building but they are also demolishing social rent units or emptying social rent units for demolition or redevelopment.

Net, net, there hasn’t been any increase in Social rent units availability in either Council. So when you see PR from both Councils, please take it with a pinch of salt.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-housing-data