Levelling Up without social housing could escalate our housing emergency, Shelter warns

Posted 18 Nov 2021

Failure to include social housing in the Government’s upcoming ‘levelling up’ plan may escalate the housing emergency in three key locations a new report by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter warns today. 

The new report, Levelling Up with Social Housing, looks at the housing emergency through three levelling up locations which lack affordable housing: Burnley, Plymouth and Sheffield. 

It shows an increase in private renters now relying on housing benefit, since the pandemic. The report comes as renters are under more intense pressure than ever this winter, with soaring fuel costs, the £20 cut to universal credit and shorter notice periods. 

Shelter is warning that as the government is pouring billions into new projects such as roads, train stations and new town centres through its levelling up agenda, there is a risk that housing costs in these areas will increase. With this, people who are already struggling to cover their living costs, will be priced out of their areas, ultimately leading to a rise in homelessness. 

While there are more than 1.1m people on the social housing waiting list, there was a net loss of around 17,000 homes last year – thanks to demolitions and sales via Right-to-Buy. 

Shelter is urging Michael Gove, the new Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to take action to ensure that local people will benefit in the growth that comes from levelling up. It’s calling for investment in infrastructure to be matched pound for pound with investment in social housing under the levelling up agenda - to ensure local people aren’t priced out of their area. 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “What the government needs to know about ‘Levelling Up’ is that without a clear commitment to building social housing specifically, this may prove impossible. You cannot solve the housing emergency without building decent homes people can afford to live in. A tangible improvement in people’s housing situation would significantly boost living standards, increase opportunities and truly represent levelling up.” 


Notes to editors:

Over 1 million households are waiting for social homes. Last year, 29,000 social homes were sold or demolished, and less than 7,000 were built. Figures and references at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/support_us/campaigns/social_housing_deficit

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 www.shelter.org.uk.