The East Riding has missed its target to build 335 new affordable homes for five years running while the number of people on council waiting lists has grown to 7,254.

East Riding Council's Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard developers built 274 affordable homes in the 2019 to 2020 financial year out of 1,397 in total.

Councillors heard while overall housing targets of 1,400 a year were hit over the last three years on average and the number of new builds grew, affordable totals had stagnated.

Housing strategy and development manager Nicola Sworowski also told the committee the 274 total for affordable homes fell to 195 when those sold under Right to Buy were included.

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It comes as the committee heard there were 7,254 people on waiting lists for council houses as of this month, up from 6,556 in 2019-20 and 6,133 in 2015-16. Councillors also heard the number of rough sleepers in the East Riding was 11 at the last count in November, down from 19 the year before.

Government instructions to local authorities to accommodate rough sleepers at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic played a part in the decrease, according to housing officers.

A total of 622 people presented themselves as homeless to the council in 2019-20, with 129 cases accepted.

The main reasons for homelessness were losing private rented accommodation, parents no longer agreeing to house them and domestic abuse.

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Councillors heard 32 Syrian families had been resettled in the East Riding since 2016 under a government refugee programme, with two families due to arrive next month before the scheme finishes.

The council has signed up to an extension of the scheme which is set to see between 30 to 35 refugees, six to seven families, arrive from this month.

Ms Sworowski said the lack of profits from affordable homes for developers often meant the number of them on new estates had to be cut back.

Developers allegedly told buyers houses were only available as leaseholds before later selling them as freeholds.
Councillors heard the amount of new affordable homes built had failed to keep pace with overall totals.

She added varying demand across the East Riding also contributed to new estates being concentrated in larger towns like Beverley, Hessle and Willerby but not in coastal and rural areas.

But Cllr Paul Lissiter said the county had also faced some of the highest house price increases regionally while having some of the lowest wages on average.

He said: "If we're seeing lower wages and house price increases at the same time then how can that be tackled?

"The delivery of affordable homes is a national problem, but we also don't seem to be doing as well as Hull which has built above its targets."

The officer said a recent stamp duty holiday had pushed house prices up further.

Council housing lead Paul Abbott said the East Riding did have the option to acquire empty homes, with officers currently in the process of taking on two in the Beverley area.

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But he added that could never be widespread because they needed to be of high enough quality to keep or put on the market and the costs of improving them.

Mr Abbott said: "We've been told we can't build up a portfolio of low quality homes so that will never be a mass scheme."

Ms Sworowski said: "Unfortunately the delivery of affordable homes hasn't followed suit with overall housing, on average the share of affordable homes has been around 20 per cent."