Addressing Oldham’s housing emergency and prioritizing the needs of our local residents


Oldham is currently facing a housing crisis. 

The social housing register in Oldham has 7,500 families in need of homes, with nearly 11,000 applications still being processed. 

Many of these families have been desperately bidding for properties without success, through no fault of their own. 

To put it simply – there is a severe shortage of homes. In fact, it would take over a century to accommodate everyone. 

For those fortunate enough to have a home, too many Oldham residents are living in appalling conditions, where they are forced to compromise their children’s health just to have a roof over their heads. Many are living in overcrowded homes and struggling to afford their rent and mortgages. 

We have become desensitized to the word “crisis” in recent years. Housing is a fundamental human right, yet thousands of people are deprived of it. This is undeniably a crisis.   

Imagine not having a place to call home for years, never being able to establish roots, and your children never having their own beds to sleep in at night. This is the heartbreaking reality for many people in our town. 

Currently, there are 470 households without homes in temporary accommodation. This number has doubled since the same month in 2021, when it stood at 233 households. 

The failure of the housing market is pushing families into dire circumstances. People who were previously stable are now at the mercy of private landlords, job losses, failed businesses, and other challenges. The cost of living crisis has exacerbated the flaws in our broken housing system. Private sector rents have increased by £168 per month in the past two years alone. Interest rates are driving up mortgages, leaving homeowners struggling to make payments and causing buy-to-let landlords to pass on the increases to their tenants. All of this is compounded by the ever-rising costs of energy and food. 

Research indicates that one in five families is just one paycheck away from financial devastation. This could easily happen to you or someone you know. 

There is a glimmer of hope as Housing Allowance is finally being increased after being frozen for far too long. While this is a welcome relief for those who rely on it to pay their rent, the government needs to implement this sooner. Waiting until April 2024 is too late, and too many families will continue to struggle for the next few months to afford their bills and worry about keeping a roof over their heads. 

We will continue to protect renters as much as possible. Our Selective Licensing Scheme ensures that private landlords in selected areas of the borough have a license and adhere to certain standards for their tenants. If they fail to do so, we will take action. 

We also have a Tenants Charter, which informs residents of what they can expect from their landlords and how to seek help if needed. When a landlord neglects repairs and maintenance, we will investigate. 

However, the ultimate solution to this broken system is the construction of more social housing, which would remove people from waiting lists that have persisted for decades and provide them with the homes they need. We have an ambitious Housing Strategy, but we are struggling to meet the overwhelming demand. 

Under this government, the number of social homes built has been reduced by 80%. This equates to 30,000 fewer social rented homes being constructed each year. 

The government must exert more effort. They must end rough sleeping and follow through on their promise to ban ‘no fault’ evictions, providing private tenants with the security they need. Additionally, they should support first-time buyers with lower incomes by offering discounted homes, prioritizing local residents for new homes built in their area. 

As a council, we witness firsthand the impact of this housing crisis on our borough and our people. We will do everything within our power to advocate for change.   

To commence our efforts, I am hosting a Housing Roundtable on 1st February, which will bring together key partners, including council services, social housing providers, and representatives of the private rented sector. The goal is to collectively take local action, rather than just engaging in discussions. We will report back on the actions we have taken. 

Every Oldham resident deserves to live in a decent, affordable home that is free from damp and mold, where they can feel secure without the fear of eviction or unaffordable rents. 

We cannot wait for the government to take action – we are stepping up and taking action ourselves. 

If you are concerned about your housing situation or struggling with the cost of living, we are here to help. Visit www.oldham.gov.uk/wecanhelp for advice on various issues, or speak to one of our dedicated advisors at 0161 770 7007. 

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