THE wait to get into social housing in the borough has been reduced, but a near five-year delay for some remains.

Test Valley residents banded as high and medium priority applicants on average waited between one-year and four-years-and-nine-months to secure a home, depending on the number of bedrooms in the property, in the 2017/18 financial year.

The latest waits show a fall in the average times from the 2016/17 year, when families could be in limbo for up to six-years-and-one-month waiting for a home.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “Far too many families are getting stuck on long waiting lists, often for months if not years on end.

“We hear from people living in temporary accommodation while they wait for a social home to become available, meaning they’re unable to put down roots and settle into jobs, schools and communities.

“As this data shows, we clearly need a bold new plan for social housing so families are not condemned to waiting lists but given safe, secure and affordable housing as quickly as possible.”

According to Shelter’s research, Test Valley has 1,990 households on the social housing waiting list while 497 social homes are available.

This means the borough is in line with the national average which is four households in need for every available social home.

Test Valley Borough Council revealed 1,191 affordable homes have been delivered in the borough in the last five years, with 2016/17 seeing more affordable homes built than in “any other Hampshire district.”

Housing and environmental health portfolio holder Phil Bundy previously told the Advertiser the authority was receiving 80 to 100 new applications per month for the housing register last year, however this has now risen to 149 on average per month in 2018.

Cllr Bundy said: “Our concentration on providing affordable homes has had a positive impact on the length of time people have to wait for affordable housing.

“We’re pleased that waiting times are decreasing but realise that they are still too long and will continue to work to reduce them further.

“There remains an ongoing demand.

“Ensuring we are able to deliver affordable homes for rent is one of a number of priorities for us. Test Valley remains an area of high demand with an expensive housing market.”

In the latest year 2017/18, 26 per cent of 217 affordable homes were built for social rent, where rents are set in the area of 60 to 65 per cent of open market value.

Cllr Bundy added: “Anyone concerned about their housing situation is welcome to contact the council’s housing team.”