Housing charity Shelter has called for 3.1 million social homes to be built across the UK over the next 20 years, in order to meet the shortage of housing. The Government aim at the moment is to build 250,000 homes by 2022, including homes for social rent. The charity’s report recommends a 20-year building programme that would provide social housing to millions of people who fail to qualify under the current system. The 16 independent commissioners of the report include former Labour leader Ed Miliband and ex-Tory chairman Baroness Warsi.
They have called for capital investment from the government, as well as reforms to lower the cost of land, new regulation and a tenant trade body or union. Shelter says there has been “40 years of failure in housing policy”, adding that up to 1980 the country was building an average of about 126,000 social homes annually, compared with only 6,463 social homes last year. The commission says the homes would provide just over 1.27 million homes for those who are homeless, those with a disability or long-term illness, or those living in very poor conditions, along with more than 691,000 for older renters, and 1.17 million homes for people trapped in “unaffordable, insecure private renting”.
The report will come as a blow to the Government, who’s annual house build figures released last month appeared strong, with an increase of 68% of social homes started last year. The report suggests the economic benefits of building social homes would outweigh the initial costs long term, despite requiring an average yearly investment of £10.7bn during construction, up to two-thirds of this expenditure could be recouped through housing benefit savings and increased tax revenue.
Despite many encouraging policies last year for the housing sector, including the Government lifting the borrowing cap for councils. It has been noted that Registered Providers cannot single-handedly build all the houses which the UK needs, particularly when houses could also be bought by tenants through the voluntary Right to Buy schemes in future. In Shelter’s report, they also called for the government to replace any social homes sold to tenants.