Shelter Briefing: The availability and affordability of housing

By: Robin White  Published: October 2017

At the heart of every problem Shelter sees is the lack of affordable homes available - whether to rent or buy. This briefing looks at some of the ways that this issue can be addressed, and that we can find a way to ensure everyone has a safe, secure and affordable place to call home.


At the heart of every problem that we see is the overall lack of affordable homes. Quite simply we aren’t building enough homes – and haven’t for a generation. In addition, the homes we are building are all too often unaffordable, unattractive and lacking in necessary community infrastructure.

The continued shortage of homes – and particularly affordable homes – means that home ownership is declining while at the same time rents continue rise. Shelter advisers report that increasingly low-income families are running out of options when it comes to finding a safe, secure and affordable home.

It is vital that action is taken to address these challenges. In the long-term that clearly means driving up our overall supply of homes, however, there are also short term measures that need to be taken. These include:

  • Ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance which is making it almost impossible for low-income families in some areas to find a home.
  • Addressing the viability loophole in national planning guidance that is responsible for the loss of thousands of affordable homes a year.

Implementing these short-term measures now would have a real impact for those currently struggling. Then, over the longer term, the government can focus on the changes to our development system that are necessary start delivering many more genuinely affordable homes.


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