Shelter Submission to the Social Housing Inquiry

By: Robin White
Published: July 2019

Submission to the Social Housing Inquiry

We welcome the opportunity to respond to this inquiry and the Committee’s interest in supporting the increased delivery of social rent housing.

The housing emergency is the result of the failure of successive governments to build enough homes, in particular enough social rent homes that are affordable to those on the lowest incomes.

The impact of this failure is stark:

- Home ownership is falling. The English Housing Survey shows 63.5% of households owned their homes in 2017/18, down from 68.3% a decade ago.

- Only half of today’s young people are likely to ever to own their own home

- The average home in England in 2018 cost eight times more to buy than the average annual pay packet

- The average share of income that young families spend on housing has trebled over the last 50 years.

- 277,000 people in England are now homeless, including 123,000 children

Fortunately, politicians of all parties now recognise the challenge that we are facing, and the government’s commitment to delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s is welcome.

However, the number of homes we build is not, on its own, enough. We must also consider the type of homes that are being delivered.

In January 2019, Shelter’s Commission on the future of social housing produced its final report: ‘Building for our future’. This advocated an historic renewal in social housebuilding to resolve our housing emergency. Our independent commissioners called on the government to commit to a programme of delivering 3.1 million new social homes over the course of the next 20 years.

This programme can be achieved through a combination of increased grant funding, reform of our broken land market and a focus on ensuring our planning system maximises the delivery of the homes we need most, backed up by measures to reduce and control finance costs for social development.