Levelling up with social housing

There is a housing emergency in every corner of this country. From struggling coastal communities and unequal cities, to neglected towns and villages.

You might have heard the term levelling up used in the news over the last few months. And perhaps you’re wondering what this actually means?

What the government says

Levelling up means ‘spreading opportunity’, ‘backing community life’ and ‘restoring local pride’ to cities, towns, coastal areas and villages that have been left behind.

What the government is doing

The government has announced £4 billion of grant investment in its Levelling Up Fund. Most of this money will go on building new infrastructure, including bridges, new roads, ports and cycling lanes.

Money will also be spent on local heritage sites, town centre improvements and regeneration schemes. 

Why is social housing important to levelling up?

Left behind places are left behind on housing too. Right across the country there is a housing emergency. Millions of people do not have a good quality place to call home at a price that’s fair. 

And as the government pours billions into new projects through levelling up, there’s a risk housing costs in these areas will increase. This will price out struggling renters from where they live.

Levelling up must benefit local people

There has to be a plan to make sure local people benefit from the growth that comes from levelling up. And that means investing in good quality, energy-efficient social homes. Social homes with rents pegged to local incomes that stay affordable over time.

The problem

We see first hand the real impact of the housing emergency on people’s lives. Every day people come to our hubs urgently needing support. Finding a good quality, energy-efficient home at a fair price is out of reach for so many people. Yet everyone needs a safe, stable and secure home to thrive. 

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

 We’ve produced a report using the local knowledge of our hub services, and real stories from the people they support. It tells the story of the housing emergency in three locations: Burnley, Plymouth and Sheffield. 

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

Read the full report


Spike is living with his 19-year-old son in a tiny, cramped flat.
'I’m 66 now and we have no privacy whatsoever. My son has the front room and I just sit in the kitchen until I go to bed at night. It’s not fair on either of us.'


Unable to keep up with the rent, Katie and her family are constantly forced to move home.

'We got our last house for £750 a month. The cheapest we could find two years later was £850, so it’s gone up £100 a month. But obviously, our money doesn’t increase. Housing is definitely the biggest stress in my life.'


For four long years, Catherine was fighting for security in the face of rising rents and homelessness. Finally she was offered a social home.

'My daughter has been unsettled since she was four. She’s been in and out of places, not knowing where home is. Now she talks about going home for the first time. It’s amazing.'

Three overlooked communities


  • our hub sees many local people unable to find a suitable home

  • families are forced to live in dilapidated, poorly insulated housing in the town centre

  • people are pushed to live in expensive housing outside the centre


  • every day more people are visiting our hub for help  

  • people struggle to pay rent, turning to housing benefit to make ends meet  

  • lack of good quality, affordable housing is holding people back


  • big divides between people and places characterise the housing emergency

  • expensive housing in the West make it hard for people to find an affordable home

  • people’s incomes are lower in the East. Too many people are priced out of private renting. Families have no choice but to live in damp, mould and disrepair.

Levelling up with social housing

Our health, our security, our pride, our community. It’s all deeply bound up with the place where we live.  For the 17.5 million adults in Britain that are impacted by the housing emergency, levelling up starts with home.

To truly level up, we need the levelling up agenda to match pound for pound the investment made into infrastructure, with investment in social homes.

For those in similar communities to where Spike, Katie and Catherine live, improvements in their housing situation would significantly boost living standards. It would increase opportunities and truly represent levelling up.

Demand more social housing

But currently the government’s Levelling Up Fund is not dedicated to providing social housing.  And, the Affordable Homes Programme – the main funding programme for  'affordable housing’ – has rules that effectively bar many places from building social housing.  

As the government pours billions into new projects through its levelling up agenda, there's a risk that housing costs in these areas will increase. This will push  struggling renters out of the areas they live. 

Social housing is the most affordable type of housing. It stays affordable over time, anchoring local people in the places they want to live. And it makes sure they can share in the benefits of levelling up. 

Let's build a better future

Demand the government makes social housing part of the levelling up agenda.

Sign the petition

Help us get Housing Secretary Michael Gove to take action.