Briefing: Housing Programme for HM Government 2015-2020

By: Shelter
Published: May 2015

Housing Programme for HM Government 2015-2020

The housing crisis has been decades in the making, but with strong leadership it can be solved by the next government. The need is urgent. Every day more people are denied a stable, affordable home to call their own. Millions are struggling to keep up with their rent or mortgage. Frustrated first time buyers are clamouring to get on the housing ladder, whilst high housing costs and the limited supply of social homes inflate the housing benefit bill.

And new research from Shelter has found that, if the new government doesn't get to grips with the housing shortage, the number of 25 to 34 year olds able to get on the property ladder could plummet by almost 50% by 2020. This could mean that by the end of this term in government, less than a fifth of 25 to 34 year olds will be home owners, compared with almost 60% a decade ago.

Voters are demanding change. Piecemeal measures will not work and have not assuaged their anxiety. The country needs a serious plan to transform housing; one that faces up to tough choices, but also sets a new tone for political generations to come. Solving this problem will take leadership and vision at local and national level, but it can be done.

A bold plan for action - top priorities for the next government:

At the heart of our housing crisis lies a severe shortage of homes. To confront this, we need to:

  • Get land into the hands of those who want to build

  • Increase public and private investment in affordable homes 

  • Ensure new homes built meet the needs of those on low and middle incomes

Over 1.5 million families with children now rent privately, yet short-term contracts and unpredictable rent increases can force families to leave their homes at just two months' notice. At the same time, conditions in the sector are notoriously poor compared to other tenures. To fix this, we need to:

  • Make private renting more stable and family friendly

  • Stamp out dangerous and poor conditions in rented homes

The housing safety net has been cut back to its limit and has taken on a disproportionate share of responsibility for deficit reduction. We should reduce the housing benefit bill by investing in genuinely affordable homes – but in the meantime, we need to protect people at risk of losing their home, by: 

  • Providing an adequate safety net to stop people losing their home.

The following document sets out exactly what steps are needed to rise to the challenge and meet the priorities detailed above.