Shelter Briefing: Estimates Day Debate

By: Shaan Bhangal
Published: July 2020

Shelter Briefing: Estimates Day Debate

Shelter is the UK’s largest housing and homelessness charity. Last year we gave information, support and advice to over 4.7 million people experiencing issues with bad housing and homelessness.

In England, we are in the midst of a housing emergency. One created by decades of underinvestment in genuinely affordable social housing. The impacts of this are stark and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people forced to shield and isolate in wholly inappropriate living conditions.

An unaccountable and expensive private rental sector has buckled under the pressure of coronavirus, putting millions more people at risk of homelessness, as the health crisis gives way to a difficult financial landscape. We have welcomed the government extending the evictions ban, but this is only prolonging the inevitable for those who have lost income and continue to rack up rent arrears.

The post-pandemic recession also brings severe risks for the English housebuilding industry, which we know will look to reduce output in an economic downturn. This means even fewer homes built and many jobs lost. New analysis from Savills – commissioned by Shelter – shows that as many as 244,000 jobs in the construction industry could be lost in 2020/21.

To prevent these outcomes the government must act now and:

1. Amend Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988, to prevent judges from being forced to grant a possession order where it is unjust to do so, due to the impacts of coronavirus.2. Accelerate the existing £12.2 billion Affordable Homes Programme, to make it a two-year rescue and recovery package.3. Spend the bulk of the rescue and recovery package on building new social rented homes, with realistic and flexible grant rates.