Submission: House of Lords Built environment committee inquiry into housing demand in the UK

By: Tarun Bhakta, Alex McCallum, Reshima Sharma
Published: October 2021

Submission: House of Lords Built environment committee inquiry into housing demand in the UK

For decades, successive governments have failed to invest in social housing: genuinely affordable homes that are tied to local incomes and that households on low incomes can afford. The impact of this failure is clear: there are now over one million households on social housing waiting lists across the country and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many more families struggle to get by in overcrowded, expensive, poor-quality private rentals, and
increasing numbers now rely on housing benefit to pay the rent. Tens of thousands of families are trapped in poor-quality temporary accommodation, costing local authorities upwards of a billion pounds every year.

As an unashamedly pro-housebuilding charity Shelter supports the government’s aim to increase the supply of housing in England. However, we also believe that the type of home we build and how we build them are vital considerations. Housing demand in this country can only be met by large-scale investment in genuinely affordable, good quality social housing.

To meet housing demand and tackle the housing emergency, Shelter recommends that the government:

  1. Deliver at least 90,000 new good quality social homes a year. This will require investment of £12.8 billion a year over the next ten years. Not only will this deliver the type of homes we need and on the scale we need, but a significantly ramped up, funded, supply of social housing will also provide the secure, countercyclical flow of new work and the conditions needed for the industry to innovate and modernise towards energy efficient house building.

  2.  Ensure all new housing units go through a full planning process, meaning Permitted Development Rights should play no role in the creation of new homes.

  3. Ensure that any reforms introduced to the planning system increase the number of new social homes. The government should provide a legal guarantee that the new Infrastructure Levy will increase the supply of new social housing.