Routes into social housing


1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2016/17, there were 318,150 new social housing lettings where the ethnicity of the main tenant was known
  • the most likely route for getting into social housing for all ethnic groups was the tenant applying directly – overall, 45.5% of households got into social housing this way
  • the second most likely route for all ethnic groups was being nominated by a local housing authority, with 24.9% of households getting into social housing this way
Things you need to know

Social housing is provided by local authorities and private registered providers (mainly housing associations).

This data relates to new, permanent lettings of social housing. It excludes lettings where a tenant starts a new tenancy agreement but stays in the same property (after their previous tenancy agreement ended).

The data only includes lettings where the tenant reported their ethnicity. This means that figures for new lettings published here may be different from other published figures on social housing.

There were 334,602 new lettings in 2016/17. The ethnicity of the main tenant was known for 318,150 of these new lettings (95.1%), and refused or missing for 16,452 lettings (4.9%).

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.

The raw data has been taken from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing (CORE) system. The statistics presented on this page have not been published separately by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Data is presented for the year 2016/17. Data for the year 2015/16 is available in the download file.

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.

Sources of referral include:

  • internal transfer – a household is given a new letting by their current housing association or local authority, or their fixed-term tenancy is renewed in their existing home
  • nominated by a local housing authority – a household is formally nominated for social housing by their local authority (often used for households in statutory homelessness)
  • referred by a local authority housing department – a household is referred by their local authority, but not under a formal nominations agreement
  • police, probation, prison – a household is referred by one of these agencies

Some routes have been combined under the category ‘Other’, including when the tenant is:

  • relocated through a recognised housing mobility scheme
  • referred by a youth offending team
  • referred by a community mental health team
  • referred by a health service

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.

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

These figures are drawn from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing (CORE) system in 2016/17. CORE is a complete census of new social housing lettings, which records:

  • social housing lettings
  • affordable housing lettings
  • sales by private registered providers
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. By ethnicity

Percentage of new lettings within each ethnic group by type of referral
Ethnicity Internal transfer Tenant applied direct Nominated by local housing authority Referred by local authority housing department Voluntary agency Social services Other social landlord Police, probation, prison Other
% % % % % % % % %
All 12.8 45.5 24.9 4.9 1.5 2.9 0.5 0.9 6.2
Asian 10.1 43.4 27.0 4.2 2.9 3.2 0.5 1.0 7.6
Bangladeshi 11.7 41.5 32.9 3.1 1.9 2.5 0.5 0.6 5.2
Chinese 11.3 41.3 29.7 3.4 1.9 3.6 0.6 0.5 7.9
Indian 10.9 41.3 24.6 5.4 3.0 4.4 0.2 1.1 9.0
Pakistani 8.9 43.4 26.2 4.5 4.1 2.5 0.5 1.8 8.0
Asian other 9.8 46.4 24.9 4.2 2.1 3.6 0.6 0.5 7.9
Black 13.5 40.2 23.4 5.8 2.8 2.8 0.8 0.9 9.8
Black African 12.2 42.4 24.7 5.3 2.8 2.3 0.7 0.5 9.2
Black Caribbean 14.4 34.7 23.6 6.9 3.3 3.5 1.0 1.6 11.0
Black other 16.6 45.1 17.8 5.3 1.8 2.8 0.5 0.8 9.3
Mixed 10.6 39.2 26.1 7.0 2.8 3.3 0.8 1.4 8.9
Mixed White/Asian 9.6 40.0 25.3 8.2 3.0 3.2 0.9 1.4 8.5
Mixed White/Black African 12.1 41.9 24.6 5.7 2.4 3.3 0.4 0.5 9.0
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 10.7 36.6 26.0 7.8 3.2 3.4 0.9 1.8 9.6
Mixed other 9.8 42.2 27.6 5.6 2.3 3.0 0.8 1.1 7.5
White 13.1 46.2 24.9 4.8 1.3 2.8 0.5 0.8 5.6
White British 13.3 46.1 24.8 4.8 1.3 2.9 0.4 0.9 5.6
White Irish 15.4 37.8 19.4 7.2 3.1 2.8 1.0 1.7 11.6
White Gypsy/Traveller 14.4 37.9 25.6 7.0 2.3 3.3 0.5 1.7 7.4
White other 8.3 51.0 29.0 2.9 1.1 1.8 0.4 0.4 5.0
Other 9.4 47.2 20.9 4.6 3.0 3.5 0.5 0.6 10.3
Arab 10.3 39.8 21.3 5.4 3.9 4.6 0.5 0.1 14.3
Any other 9.0 50.2 20.8 4.3 2.6 3.1 0.5 0.8 8.6

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)


This data shows that:

  • in 2016/17, there were 318,150 new social housing lettings where the ethnicity of the main tenant was known
  • for all ethnic groups, the most likely route into social housing was the tenant applying directly (accounting for 45.5% of new social housing lettings)
  • compared with other ethnic groups, Black Caribbean households were least likely to get a new social housing letting by applying directly (forming 34.7% of their total lettings), and households from the Other White group were most likely to (at 51.0% of their total lettings)
  • the second most likely route into social housing for all ethnic groups was being nominated by a local housing authority (accounting for 24.9% of new social housing 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 two routes accounted for 80% of lettings (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups)
  • there were no large changes for any ethnic groups between 2015/16 and 2016/17

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).

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 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).


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 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 files contains the following: Measure, Time, Time_type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Source of Referral, Value, Numerator