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14,000 social homes lost last year, as over a million households sit on waiting lists

Posted 26 Jan 2023

New government figures released todayreveal a net loss of 14,100 social homes in England, as demolitions and sales far outstripped the number of new homes built.  

  • 21,600 social homes were either sold or demolished in 2021/22, while only 7,500new homes were built leading to a net loss of14,100homes. 

  • In the last decade, there has been a total net loss of 165,000 social homes (between 2012/13 and 2021/22).  

  • 1.2 million households in England are currently stuck on waiting lists for a social home, a rise of 5% in the last two years. 

Shelter is urging the government to make building more genuinely affordable social homesa central part ofits new Levelling Up Bill, and in doing so reverse decades of decline.The charity argues this is essential to combatting the country’s housing emergency.  

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We arefirmly in the red when it comes to social housing. We lose far more homes than we build every year and the losses are mounting up. 

“The social housing deficit is at the heart of the housing emergency. The fundamental lack of genuinely affordable homeshas pushed millions of people into insecure, expensive and often discriminatory private renting. It is why we have over a million households waiting for a decent social home, andthousands ofhomeless childrenare growing upin temporary accommodation. 

“The solution is simple: build more social housing. The government can’t afford to allow this decline to stretch into another decadeif it has any hopes of meaningfully levelling up. Instead, it must invest in a new generation of the homes we really need – secure, genuinely social housing.” 


Notes to editors:

  • 21,638 social homes were either sold or demolished in 2021/22, including 18,881 sales and 2,757 demolitions.We have excluded low-cost homeownership from the total sales figure and have assumed that social housing sales and demolitions were previously let at social rent.Sales and demolitions data is available at: DLUHC, Live tables on social housing sales, Table 678 and 684.  

  • In 2021/22 7,528 social rent homes were delivered in England. Data is available at: DLUHC, Live tables on affordable housing supply, Table 1006C 

  • To calculate the estimated net loss of social housing we have compared the number of social rent homes completed with the number of social homes lost through sales and demolitions. Between 2012/13 and 2021/22, a total of 84,215social rent homes were delivered, but 193,845social homes were lost through sales and 55,392were lost through demolitions.This works out as a total net loss of 165,022social homes in the last ten years. 

  • In 2022 there were1,206,376 households on social housing waiting lists in England.This is an increase of 5% since 2020 where there were 1,145,132 households on social housing waiting lists. Data is available at: DLUHC, Live tables on rents, lettings and tenancies, Table 600  

About Shelter:Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at