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Living in a social home is over 60% more affordable than private renting

Posted 30 May 2024

Living in a social home is over 60% more affordable than private renting

Shelter urges all political parties to commit to building truly affordable social homes

Social rents are 64% more affordable than private rents, with social tenants in England having to pay on average £828 less per month in rent than private tenants, new analysis by Shelter reveals.

The charity's analysis of the latest government rent data shows if more social housing was available, renters across the country would be able to save thousands a year on their housing costs. If they could move from private renting into social housing, renters in London would be more than £1,400 better off a month on average, in the East of England £630 a month and in the South East £730 a month better off.

But with a chronic shortage of social housing available and private rents hitting record highs, an increasing number of people are being priced out and tipped into homelessness. Shockingly, a record 145,800 children are homeless and living in temporary accommodation with their families.

Shelter argues a new generation of genuinely affordable social homes is essential to insulate families from homelessness and keep communities together. In a survey of more than 2,000 social renters, carried out by Shelter and YouGov, 70% of social tenants - equivalent to over six million people - said without their social home they could not afford to live in their local area.

Compared to the insecurity of private renting, social housing offers long term secure tenancies with rents tied to local incomes. Part of Shelter’s research looked specifically at people who have moved from private renting into a social home in the last 10 years, and the difference it has made:

74% of people said they are less worried about having to move

74% said they are less worried about becoming homeless

71% said there is more stability in their life as a result.

The results also speak to the benefits of living in social housing on a person's life from their professional aspirations to raising children.

69% of parents said social housing had given their children a stable home.

43% of social tenants said it has enabled them to live close to their support networks.

Of social renters who reported that their housing situation had made a difference to the following areas:

65% said it positively impacted their access to job opportunities (base: 397 renters)

68% said it had a positive impact on their family life (base: 905 renters)

CASE STUDY:Natalie, 46, lives in a social home with her 16-year-old daughter Tia in South London. Before she was offered her social home, Natalie and Tia spent nearly a year living in a room in a homeless hostel after being evicted from their privately rented flat.

Natalie said: “I couldn’t believe my ears when the council told me I got our social home. Being homeless in temporary accommodation was very difficult. It was cramped and there was no room for Tia to crawl, there were mice which I’d hear at night, there were so many stairs which is hard when you have a buggy, baby and bags and strict curfews too. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and suffered with depression, I felt so isolated.

“Having a secure home gives you the feeling that you’re in control of your life and I don’t feel we had that. My route to finding a stable home for myself and my daughter has been very hard and emotional. And even now, several years later it doesn’t always feel real. It’s taken a long time for me to settle in my home and believe this is for me to set up and start my life all over again.

“Since moving into our home, Tia is happy, bubbly and loves meeting other kids. She feels rooted and it’s given her stability, she knows this is her home and that’s it. There are kids out there who go to school and you wouldn’t know they’re in hostels, but it affects their education and concentration. No child should have to be homeless or worry about their home being taken away from them.”

With more than 1.3 million households stuck on the social housing waiting list in England, and a General Election in sight, Shelter is urging all political parties to commit now to the only solution that will end the housing emergency: 90,000 new social homes a year for 10 years.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “Social housing enables people to live better lives, but we just don’t have enough of it – not by a long shot. Decades of failure to build genuinely affordable social homes has left the country in a dire state.

“We continually hit shameful records with numbers of homeless children and sky-high rents, as more and more families are plunged into homelessness. For many this means years of upheaval and uncertainty, stripping the chance for families to set down roots, for children to thrive at school and taking the power away from people to live the life they want.

“The housing emergency has been wilfully ignored for too long. All the signs point to one solution and it's the only one that works. Now that a General Election has been called we cannot afford to waste any time. All political parties must commit to building genuinely affordable social homes - we need 90,000 a year over ten years to end the housing emergency for good.”


Notes to editors:

Notes to Editors

The latest data available on average social rents in from the Department for Levelling Up housing and Communities ‘Social Housing Lettings in England: Social housing lettings in England, tenancies summary tables: April 2022 to March 2023’ published in March 2024 and available here: mean weekly rent of all new social housing lettings in England is £105.53 a week (£457.30 a month).

The latest data on private rents is published by the Office for National Statistics: Private rent and house prices, UK. Published April 2024. Available here: Private rent and house prices, UK - Office for National Statistics ( The mean monthly rent in private tenancies in England is £1,285.

Regional averages comparing social and private mean rents per month show that social renters spend on average £1,420.95 less in London, £631.06 less in the East of England and £735.12 less in the South East.

All population estimates and rental cost calculations, unless stated otherwise, have been carried out by Shelter.

Survey figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,041 social renters. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 22nd April 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all social renters in England using English Housing Survey (EHS) data.

Of the 2,041social renters surveyed, 412 respondents had moved from a privately rented home in the previous ten years.

When referring to social renters who are parents, we mean those with children in their home

Respondents were asked: ‘Generally speaking, to what extent has your current housing situation had a positive or negative impact on the following areas of your life, or has it made no difference?’: ‘job opportunities’ ‘family life’. Percentages reported are from respondents who said that their housing situation had impacted on that area of their life – i.e. it had had a negative or positive impact. This excludes respondents who said that it had made no difference. 397 respondents reported that it had impacted on job opportunities. 905 respondents reported that it had impacted on their family life.

There are 8.8 million social renters in England. Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities. 70% is equivalent to 6.15 million renters, ‘English Housing Survey: Headline Report 2022/23:

1.3 million households are on a social housing waiting list in England. Data published by Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, ‘Table 600: numbers of households on local authorities' housing waiting lists, by district, England, from 1987’ Live tables on rents, lettings and tenancies - GOV.UK (

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. Shelters expert advisers offer vital support and advice to millions of families who are enduring the immense harm caused by housing emergency. Learn more at