CALLS are being made for more affordable social housing in Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole.

Some councillors say that without further building at the lowest possible rents the area will never be able to reduce its 5,000-home waiting list and key, lower paid workers, may not be able to afford to live in the area.

The pleas come as the Conservative controlled administration sets out a five-year building programme for 1,000 new homes – to add to the 10,000 already under council control.

Although the housing waiting list has grown by 15 per cent since 2019 housing brief holder Cllr Bob Lawton says the vast majority on it already have a home but would prefer the security of a council managed property rather than be at the mercy of private landlords.

The council’s housing strategy also allows for the purchase of up to 250 existing properties for use by homeless people and some who are rough sleeping.

Cllr Derek Borthwick, Conservative, told an overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday that the target figures were nowhere near enough – and were thousands short of meeting local need.

“We have just got to build more houses in the BCP area – people have to have a roof over their heads. I think about the youngsters and I dread for their future,” he said.

Other councillors were also critical of the policy – Labour’s Cllr Lewis Alison said the Tory administration was showing ‘no commitment’ to social housing but instead planned to offer rental homes which were unlikely to be affordable to the lower paid.

Cllr Tony Trent, Lib Dem, said he would also like to see a higher percentage built as social housing, especially those which would be put up on council-owned land: “We need to do something serious about social housing and have a strategy of delivering it where we can,” he said.

Other councillors called for the housing strategy to include ways of using the 311 houses in the area which have been empty for at least two years, 81 of them  for five years or more and for new build homes to meet higher energy efficient standards, with improvements also to be made to existing council-controlled homes.

Cllr Lawton said that of the homes being proposed in the next five years the aim was for 65 per cent to be ‘affordable’ homes for rent, compared to the national target of 40 per cent.

“The difficulty is that we are subject to market forces which are forcing prices and rents up,” he said.

Cheaper social housing is generally offered at a rental of around 25 per cent less than ‘affordable’ rental homes which generally have rents set at around 80% of the full local market rate.