Sheffield has the highest waiting list for council houses in Yorkshire.
Sheffield Council says more than 28,600 people are waiting to be housed.
But officials added only a ‘small proportion’ are actively seeking properties, with fewer than 7,000 people putting in a bid since October. The figures have been issued in response to the GMB union naming Sheffield as the place in South Yorkshire with the highest number of people on a council housing waiting list.
The GMB’s figures are from April 2013.
They put the number of households in the city on the housing waiting list at that time at more than 60,000.
But the council said those figures were ‘misleading’ and a review of the list carried out over the past year had greatly cut numbers.
However, even with the reduction, the city still has more people on the register than places such as Leeds, with 20,000 according to the GMB’s figures, and Bradford, with 14,800.
Coun Harry Harpham, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for homes, said: “Some councils restrict who can register or bid for council housing, but we don’t.
“Here in Sheffield we do not have a council house waiting list, instead we operate an open bidding process which anyone can register for, in case they may wish to bid in the future.
“Only a small proportion of people on that register might be actively bidding on council properties.
“We have around 28,641 people on the register, of whom 6,780 have bid on a property since last October.
“In reality, most people who are registered are not currently trying to find a council house. Over the past year we have carried out a review to confirm all these people wish to remain on the register and have up-to-date information.
“It should also be stressed housing that is available is given to those with the greatest social housing need.”
Coun Harpham added: “We agree council housing waiting lists are too long, and are actively trying to combat this here in Sheffield by building new council houses.”
Rotherham was named by the GMB as having the second highest number of people on the waiting list in Yorkshire, with more than 26,000.
But Rotherham Council said the figures were out of date and latest statistics show 15,000 people on its revised list.
Officials said almost half of those on the register have never made a formal bid for a property.
Dave Richmond, director of housing for Rotherham Council, said: “In March 2013, there were 25,314 people on the housing register, but only about 5,000 bid for a property.
“We found that the vast majority of these people were not in urgent need of social housing and have registered just in case they need housing in the future.
“So, over the past year, we have undertaken an annual housing register review to find out how many people would like to remain on the register, and this process has reduced the register to 15,038. Of these just under 50 per cent, 6,770, have never made a bid.”
Tim Roache, GMB regional secretary, said a major council house building programme is needed in Yorkshire.