There is a desperate need for new council houses in Swindon.

And that’s shown by the fact that with a waiting list in the low thousands, only 356 general needs tenancies (which excludes elderly people’s accommodation and other supported housing)were granted by Swindon Borough Council in 2017-18.

Of those tenancies, 164 were given to existing council tenants wanting to move, so the number of new tenancies is as low as 192 for the whole year.

There were 152 supported housing tenancies, of which 75 were new tenants

Secretary of the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, Martin Wicks said: “The small number of people who get new council tenancies reflects the acute shortage of council housing in Swindon. Despite the growth of the town we have around 200fewer council homes than in 2010. New council building is not even keeping up with the loss of homes through Right to Buy.

“Recently the Housing Minister Kit Malthouse admitted that there were not enough new ‘social rent’ homes being built, but the government has offered no grant to councils to build new council homes with council rents.

Without a large scale council house building programme the housing crisis will be protracted and the many people who cannot afford a mortgage will continue to be forced to rent in the expensive private rented sector.”

Mr Wicks said there were 2946 households on the council’s waiting list in October 2018. He added: “Giving out new tenancies at a rate of 267 a year - if you combine general needs and supported housing - gives an indication of how long people have to wait.”

The tenants group said there were currently 10,287 council houses and flats in Swindon, down from 10,490 in 2010.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, the borough council’s cabinet member for housing and Public Safety, said: “Although Mr Wicks reflects on the significant number of lettings being tenants who transfer from another Council property, this in itself addresses a need, and in turn frees up the property from which they have moved to meet a housing need.

“The council positively encourages those in need, such as families which have grown in size and need additional bedrooms to move. Ultimately, we want to see the very best use made of its housing stock. The same is true of households who are under-occupying larger family-sized homes. We continue to develop our own new council housing and I am pleased to say that we are well on track to delivering the 266 affordable homes that are outlined in our pledges.”

Emma Bushell the Labour group's lead on housing, She said: "Swindon is facing a housing crisis. Home ownership is down, private rents are up, homelessness has increased.

"It is unacceptable that children from over 200 families will be waking up on Christmas morning in temporary accommodation in Swindon this year. Others will be walking up on the street."These figures show that there is simply not enough affordable housing available in Swindon. One of the many ways a Labour council would address this housing crisis is by a commitment to build 1000 new council houses over 5 years."

"This would provide permanent homes to give crucial stability to families in temporary accommodation.

"It would also give many Swindon people who want it access to a house they can afford.

"But given the numbers on the waiting list, even a Labour council couldn’t solve Swindon’s housing crisis on its own. The government must provide more money for councils to build houses.”