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Levelling up with social housing

The government’s flagship levelling up programme wants to tackle inequalities by ‘spreading opportunity’, ‘backing community life’, and ‘restoring local pride’ to cities, towns, coastal areas, and villages that have been left behind.

This can’t be done without building the social homes we desperately need.

Why is social housing important for levelling up?

Left behind places are areas that haven't had the investment they need. Too often, they are left behind on housing too.

Right across the country millions of people do not have a good quality place to call home at a price that’s fair. And the cost of living crisis is making the situation worse.

Put simply, home is everything. And this is especially true for those people and places identified as left behind.

The impact of the housing emergency

In 2021, we produced a report about the impact of the housing emergency on three locations: Burnley, Plymouth and Sheffield. We used the local knowledge of our hub services and real stories from the people they support.

These stories highlight the deep and varied housing problems across our country.

For people like those in our report struggling with rising rents and stuck in unfit accommodation, a tangible improvement in their housing situation would significantly boost living standards. It would increase opportunities and truly represent levelling up.

That’s why we need a new generation of good quality, cheap to heat, genuinely affordable social homes. Social homes with rents pegged to local incomes that stay affordable over time. Only then will everyone have a safe, permanent place to live and the foundations to thrive.

How we campaigned to level up with social housing

In 2022, the government published the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. In it, the government proposed some major changes to land and planning rules.

We felt that these changes offered a real opportunity to make building social homes cheaper and easier to do. And so we set out our specific asks in our report on unlocking social housing.

Tens of thousands of our supporters and members of the public also signed petitions and emailed their MPs. This helped us to campaign for the bill to:

  • make sure councils look at social housing need. We argued that they should take into account the number of social homes needed in their area when creating new local plans.

  • make land cheaper so councils can build more social homes. We fought for 'hope value' to be scrapped. Hope value was calculated by looking at what land bought with a Compulsory Purchase Order would be worth if it was sold to build luxury flats. This made the land extremely expensive.

What we achieved together

The government listened to us and passed the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill with two big changes that we campaigned for.

Together, we achieved great success, as the government agreed to:

  • encourage councils to look at social housing need when creating their local plans

  • give councils more powers to buy land without having to pay hope value if they are going to build social housing . This change in the law to remove hope value will make building social homes around 40% cheaper, meaning taxpayers' money will go further. It will also make brownfield, urban land more likely to be used to build the homes communities need.

These two wins are important steps towards our strategic goal of getting the government to commit to funding a new generation of social homes.

External shot of social housing block of flats.

Why we must level up with social housing

For the 17.5 million adults in Britain who are affected by the housing emergency, levelling up starts with home.

To truly level up, the government must build at least 90,000 social homes a year.

This is because social housing:

  • is the only genuinely affordable type of housing

  • stays affordable over time, anchoring local people to the places they want to live

  • makes sure people can share in the benefits of levelling up with a safe, secure and permanent place to live

Let's build a better future, let’s level up with social housing

Sign our petition