THE number of households on Dorset’s social housing waiting list is expected to fall in the New Year.

Housing brief holder at Dorset Council, Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, says he expects that a review of the register when people will be asked to sign up again, will produce a significant drop in numbers.

He also claims that prospects for social housing at the moment are much better than they have been in Dorset for some years – with 500-600 potentially suitable properties being planned.

But despite his optimism, at best only 1,000 households a year from the list, find somewhere suitable to live.

Said Dorchester councillor Stella Jones at a committee meeting on Tuesday: “If 6,000 households are on the list and only 1,000 are being allocated, that’s 5,000 who are disappointed…it will be unlikely that most will be offered a home unless they are essential workers or an emergency…what we need is more houses to offer,” she said.

Cllr Carr-Jones told a committee meeting on Tuesday that most people fail to tell the council when they have found accommodation and are only reminded when asked if they still want to be on the housing register.

That review process is expected to start later this winter once the council has signed off new policies for managing housing allocations.

Cllr Carr-Jones said the change in policy would not fill the shortfall between housing need and the number of homes being built but should improve the fairness of who is offered a property.

The meeting heard a call for being more open with people on the list – telling them, realistically, when they had little chance of social housing, and then going on to help and encourage them to find other routes, such as renting, buy to let, or using shared equity schemes.

A public consultation on housing issues by the council had attracted more than 760 responses with the committee being told there was general support for the council’s approach which has been praised by national bodies.

Among the changes will be a recognition that more housing support may be needed for children who have been in the care of the council at the point they become adults, and that changes in domestic abuse legislation, expected to become law in January, may also create additional needs.

Weymouth councillor Pete Barrow called for housing staff to provide regular statistics once the new allocations policy comes into being to enable the authority to monitor if policies were working and to then make changes, if they were not.