Housing Briefing Book Version 2

August 31, 2023

We have created an insightful housing product on the City Observatory - the Housing Briefing Book. The Housing Briefing book brings together data that is internally held, as well as external sources to provide a rich understanding of the housing stock in Birmingham. The internal data that has been provided, updates weekly on this product, bringing you the most up to date insight. The tool allows you to view information on: All Dwellings in Birmingham, Council owned housing stock, Social Housing Lettings, Census 2021 data relevant to Housing, Housing supply, Affordability and Benefits, and Help to Buy. 

Further information will be added and released in the briefing book as we work towards building a deeper knowledge base. A summary of what this briefing book outlines through use of data, is outlined below

Drivers for change

This housing briefing books highlights housing trends for Birmingham, but it’s a picture that is mostly replicated nationally. If we use the briefing book to understand housing supply, in the West Midlands housing supplied by local authorities as a percentage of total housing has reduced by 1% over the past decade. In Birmingham it is almost a 2% decrease. The main driver for the reduction of local authority housing is the right to buy scheme, and Birmingham is losing on average around 1% of its stock every year to right to buy sales. As Birmingham has the largest number of stock, it has more right to buy completions than other local authorities but this report shows other authorities such as Manchester and Nottingham are losing higher percentages of stock per year than Birmingham, such is the demand of the right to buy scheme across all authorities. 


New build reductions

The building of new, affordable homes for the average English local authority has dropped, from 37% of new builds being affordable ten years ago to 28% now. Birmingham has dropped to 12% of new builds being affordable. The majority of Birmingham City Council’s Housing stock is between 45 – 100 years old, with 2,072 properties built in the last 30 years, showing the difficulties in replenishing stock demolished or sold. The challenge of the right to buy scheme, with the challenge of acquiring or building new properties is ultimately causing the amount of local authority stock to be reduced, a theme that is replicated across England.


High demand for affordable social housing

The demand for social or affordable housing in Birmingham is high; with over 20,000 applicants on the waiting list, the majority of which require 2-3 bedrooms for the families. If we look at the housing supply and demand page, it illustrates Birmingham City Council has approximately 3,000 lettings per year, half of which are 1-bedroom properties. This shows the challenges Birmingham City Council has to provide housing for families requiring 3-5 bedroom housing, as these properties are not becoming available to let. The increasing demand for social housing can also be illustrated by the vacant dwellings over time where they have reduced from 1,500 to 500 voids over the last 10 years, which highlights the extra demand from customers as less properties are remaining empty.


The challenges we face

The challenges around housing affordability will also create further demands for social housing, since 2010 house prices in Birmingham have increased by over 12%, more than the national average. Annual pay has increased 4.5% higher than the national average but in Birmingham this means that house prices have increased 35% more than pay (26% nationally). The cost-of-living crisis, recent inflationary pressures and the increasing cost of housing mean the demand for social or affordable housing is expected to increase.    



Overall, the key challenges Birmingham faces, includes:

  • The decrease in local authority housing stock in Birmingham over the past decade, primarily driven by the Right to Buy scheme.
  • The decline in the building of affordable new homes versus the high demand for affordable homes, expected to increase due to the cost-of-living crisis and other financial challenges.
  • With declining housing stock, this leads to major challenges for Birmingham in being able to provide fit-for-purpose housing, particularly for vulnerable families.


To see a full list of what's new in this version pop over to the Help & Support page within the report and click on the Release Notes button.

The easily accessible and timely data in the Housing Briefing Book can help empower and inform evidence-based decision making, shining a light on key trends impacting on Birmingham housing right now. Please contact us at cityobservatory@birmingham.gov.uk if you have any feedback on this dashboard.

Author: Carl Wallace, Senior Data Analyst - Housing

People illustrations by Storyset