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Submission: Budget 2021

By: Alastair Harper
Published: February 2021

Submission: Budget 2021

The UK is in the midst of three interlinked crises. The health crisis caused by the pandemic has led to a resultant economic crisis which threatens the livelihoods of families across the country. These crises have been made far worse due to our country being in a long-standing housing crisis, which has made some homes across the country unaffordable and left hundreds of thousands facing homelessness.

The UK’s housing emergency has been driven by a decades-long failure by successive governments to build enough homes affordable to households on low incomes - homes with social rents linked to local incomes. There has been such a chronic lack of social housing built that, with sales and demolitions, in 2018/19 we saw a net loss of 17,000 social homes.

The results of these failings are stark:

  • 253,000 people are homeless and living in Temporary Accommodation in England; this is the highest figure for 14 years. This number has risen 115,000 in the last ten years but more worryingly it rose by 6,000 in the first three months of the pandemic alone. Home ownership is in decline. The English Housing Survey shows that 65% of households owned their own homes in 2019/20, a reduction from a peak of 71%. The average market sale home in England costs nearly eight times more than the average annual household income

  • At the same time, private renters spend on average 38% of their household income on rent, more than any other tenure. 60% of private renters have no savings at all, making pulling together a deposit impossible, home ownership a distant dream, and making the government’s homeownership schemes impossibly inaccessible for most renters.

The number one goal for this budget must be to strengthen the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by prioritising jobs and skills. By investing in social housing, the government can do this as well as solving the housing crisis. However, while the three crises continue and millions remain vulnerable in unaffordable, insecure homes, the storm must still be weathered. The welfare system must protect people to avoid a surge in homelessness due to rental debt.