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Fewer waiting for council housing places

Kent councils are bucking the national trend for the numbers on their housing waiting lists.

Latest figures show a fall in many areas for those on councils' housing waiting lists.

Councils in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling, Sevenoaks, Swale, Dartford, Gravesend and Ashford all saw the number of people on their waiting lists fall between March 2008 and the same time this year.

It comes despite predictions by the National Housing Federation that 200,000 households across the country are projected to join waiting lists for social housing by 2011 as the recession takes hold.

Canterbury, Medway, Shepway, Maidstone, Dover and Thanet all saw the number of people on their social housing waiting lists rise, but this has been put down to changes in the way data is collected and people being left on the list who have already got accommodation elsewhere.

Dover District Council saw its numbers rise from 3033 to 3271.

But a council spokesman explained: "Of the applicants currently on the register, just under 30 per cent are tenants already currently living in either council-owned or housing association-owned social housing.

“They are seeking transfers for reasons of size or to relocate to a different area."

Medway Council saw the number of people on its waiting lists rise from 7123 in January 2008 to 9934.

But the increase is mostly due to the fact waiting list leavers have not yet been removed from the list.

A Medway Council spokeswoman said: “Medway Council has changed the way it deals with housing issues and tries to keep people in their home wherever possible.

“If a tenant has an issue with their landlord, the council’s housing team can act as a mediator to help resolve any problems they may have.

“This has led to a decrease in the number of people applying to be placed on the council’s housing waiting list in the first instance, and it is now used as a last port of call.”

The numbers may go down even further as some councils attempt to update their databases.

The spokeswoman added: “The council is in the process of contacting everyone on the housing waiting list to find out if they still require help with their living arrangements.

“While the number of people registered for re-housing has increased, there is evidence to suggest this figure will decrease once the review has been completed.”

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