How to get a council house indeed, when one in 12 families are on the waiting list and the average wait is five to six years. In the first episode of what will undoubtedly be a thoroughly depressing series, there’s one discouraging fact after another: council cuts, a limited supply of accommodation, ramshackle housing and a growing population.
Each week in Tower Hamlets there are 24,000 households fighting for 40 properties and the challenge for council workers is to determine who’s most in need. The bidding process is stressful and racial tensions aren’t uncommon. It’s not just stereotypes; there’s a former investment banker who’s applied 400 times in two years. Being in band two, he isn’t a priority; those in a greater predicament are in band one. His family of four shares a one-bedroom flat.
Yet 50 percent of places offered are refused – sometimes on account of the kitchen cupboards ‘not being right’. The Begum family has rejected 12 potential homes and are holding out for one with a parking space. If ever there was a stark exposé of the housing crisis in Broken Britain, this is it.