Routes into social housing


Last updated 2 March 2018 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2015/16 there were 355,898 new social housing lettings in England

  • for almost all ethnic groups, the most likely route for getting social housing was the tenant applying directly

  • the only exception was for Bangladeshi households, where the most likely route was being nominated by a local housing authority

Things you need to know

These figures are drawn from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing (CORE) system. CORE is a complete census of new social housing lettings.

Tenants can refuse to give information on their ethnicity. The data used here excludes any records where ethnicity was refused or where information was missing. This means that figures for new lettings may be different from other published figures on social housing.

Social housing is provided by local authorities and private registered providers (mainly housing associations), who are responsible for framing and operating their own policies for allocating social housing.

To access social housing through the local authority waiting list, a household has to be eligible under centrally set rules, qualify under rules determined locally, and have sufficient priority under the local authority’s allocation scheme

Some categories were combined with the category ‘Other’. This is because the figures for those categories were small enough that an individual’s identity could be revealed. These categories are:

  • relocated through recognised national, regional or sub-regional housing mobility scheme
  • youth offending team
  • community mental health team
  • health service

A full list of the possible routes into social housing is on page 39 of the CORE Manual 2015/16 (PDF opens in a new window or tab) (PDF).

The data uses the ethnicity of the main tenant. For a single tenancy, this is the named tenant.

For a joint tenancy, the main tenant is:

  • the economically active or working person
  • the oldest person if both tenants are working or both are not working

The figures come from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing in England (CORE) in 2015/16, which records:

  • social housing lettings
  • affordable housing lettings
  • sales by private registered providers

The CORE data used here relates to new, permanent general lettings of social housing. It doesn’t include other types of letting, except temporary lettings where a household moves into supported housing. Supported housing is housing that is either purpose designed or designated for a particular type of tenant.

It also does not include lettings where a tenant starts a new tenancy agreement but stays in the same property (after their previous tenancy agreement ended).

There may be some inaccuracy in the administrative data used to compile these statistics due to missing responses or reporting errors when the data was entered.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of new lettings in social housing by source of referral, for each ethnic group.

‘Source of referral’ refers to the main route that tenants used to get social housing. For example, they may have applied directly themselves, or been referred by a local housing authority.

The information relates to households. A household is one person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence. If it is a group, they must share cooking facilities and also share a living room, sitting room or dining area.

While the raw data has been taken from CORE, the statistics presented on this page have not been published before.

The ethnic categories used in this data

This data uses the standardised ethnic groups based on the 2011 Census.


  • English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British
  • Irish
  • Gypsy, Traveller or Irish Traveller
  • Any other White background

Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:

  • White and Black Caribbean
  • White and Black African
  • White and Asian
  • Any other Mixed/Multiple ethnic background

Asian/Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Any other Asian background

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British:

  • African
  • Caribbean
  • Any other Black/African/Caribbean background

Other ethnic group:

  • Arab
  • Any other ethnic group

2. Routes into social housing by ethnicity

Percentage of new lettings by route into social housing by ethnicity
Ethnicity Internal transfer Nominated by local housing authority Other Other social landlord Police, probation, prison Referred by local authority housing department Social services Tenant applied direct Voluntary agency
% % % % % % % % %
All 13 26 6 1 1 5 3 44 2
Asian 11 29 8 1 2 4 3 40 4
Bangladeshi 13 39 5 0 1 3 2 35 2
Chinese 15 29 9 1 0 3 2 41 1
Indian 10 24 10 1 2 5 3 41 4
Pakistani 8 26 8 1 3 4 3 42 5
Asian other 11 27 7 1 1 5 3 42 3
Black 14 27 9 1 1 6 3 37 3
Black African 12 28 8 1 1 5 2 40 3
Black Caribbean 15 27 11 1 2 7 3 32 3
Black other 18 20 8 0 1 4 3 43 2
Mixed 11 29 9 1 2 7 3 36 3
Mixed White/Asian 11 30 8 0 1 7 2 38 3
Mixed White/Black African 12 26 10 1 2 5 2 40 3
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 11 27 10 1 3 8 4 34 4
Mixed other 9 33 8 1 1 6 3 37 2
White 14 26 6 1 1 5 3 45 2
White British 14 25 6 1 1 5 3 45 2
White Irish 18 19 10 1 2 7 4 36 4
White Gypsy/Traveller 8 34 7 2 2 6 3 36 4
White other 9 30 5 0 0 3 2 50 2
Other 11 20 9 1 1 5 3 47 4
Arab 11 23 10 1 1 8 3 41 4
Any other 11 19 8 1 1 5 3 49 4

Download table data for ‘Routes into social housing by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Routes into social housing by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Routes into social housing Routes into social housing by ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2015/16 there were 355,898 new social housing lettings in England

  • for almost all ethnic groups, the most likely route into social housing was the tenant applying directly (accounting for 44% of new social housing lettings, or 155,639 lettings); the second most likely route was being nominated by a local housing authority (26% of new social housing lettings, or 91,594 lettings)

  • for Bangladeshi households, the most likely route into social housing was being nominated by a local housing authority – this accounted for 39% of new social lettings (1,285 lettings)

  • in every ethnic group, these 2 routes into social housing accounted for more than half of all new social housing lettings; for households in the Other White ethnic group, these 2 routes accounted for 80% of lettings (11,926 lettings)

  • Black Caribbean households were least likely to apply directly to get a new social housing letting, with 32% doing so (2,835 lettings)

3. Methodology

The three main types of housing tenure in England are:

  • owner occupiers
  • private renters
  • social renters

This data refers to new lettings to social renters only. The data is based on the data collected from providers via the on-line Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing in England (CORE) system. CORE was first set up in 1989 and initially only required private registered providers (PRPs) to submit social housing lettings and sales information to support the government’s regulatory function. CORE’s remit expanded in 2004 to include local authority information.

Some questions on the CORE questionnaire are not compulsory. In particular, data on household characteristics (age, sex, economic status, ethnicity and nationality) may not be available to the housing officer or may be refused by the tenant.

The totals for new lettings used in this data differs from other published totals for new lettings, as this data does not use estimated data for ethnicity and excludes those where ethnicity was refused.

Information on lettings of social housing in England is provided by local authorities and private registered providers (previously known as housing associations). Information about the tenancy, the tenants and the property is collected by data providers each time there is a new letting of a social housing property.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.

Data here has been weighted at the national level, but not at the regional or local authority area level. Weights are calculated for groups of similar local authorities, where these groups are defined by the Office of National Statistics UK area classifications, and they are based on the comparison with data from another Department for Communities and Local Government source on social housing data (Local Authority Housing Statistics).

For further information on weighting, see the Quality Report (PDF opens in a new window or tab) (PDF).

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of 1 or 2 have been suppressed, mainly to avoid possible risk of disclosure. This is consistent with the way the confidentiality of data within the Continuous Recording (CORE) system is maintained. The Continuous Recording (CORE) system records information anonymously and maintains absolute confidentiality on tenants’ circumstances. Access to record-level information is only available through a licence agreement.

Further information on CORE disclosure practices can be found on the CORE website (PDF opens in a new window or tab) (PDF).


Percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal place. Due to rounding, some totals may not add up to 100%.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The aim of Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing in England (CORE) is to provide information about new social housing lettings, sales, tenants and buyers across England.

This national information is used by government bodies and organisations to inform social housing funding, regulatory and housing policy decisions.

5. Download the data

Different routes into social housing - Spreadsheet (csv) 22 KB

This file contains: ethnicity, year, value, numerator