A new report by housing charity Shelter says England needs to build three million new social homes to solve the UK’s housing crisis.
The government has said providing fair social housing is a priority. Current plans propose building 250,000 new homes by 2022, but only a proportion of them will be for social rent.
The Shelter report says 1.3 million homes are required for those in the greatest need, including the homeless and people living with disability.
It also calls for a further 1.2 million new homes for younger families who cannot afford to buy and ‘face a lifetime in expensive and insecure private renting’ and 600,000 homes for older private renters who are retired and struggling to pay high housing costs.
A team of 16 independent commissioners produced the report, including former Labour leader ED Milliband who said the proposal would ‘transform the fabric of the country, the lives of millions of people in the country’.
He said: “It is a big sum of money, but the problem is the last labour government didn’t do enough and neither is the current government.
“In the years after the Second World War, governments – Labour and Conservative – built about 120,000 social homes and council houses every year.
In the last 20 years or so – we’ve built 20,000 social homes per year – and that is one of the biggest causes of the housing crisis.”
The report was commissioned following the Grenfell tower block disaster and urges ministers to invest £214 billion over 20 years on a programme to ‘reverse the decay’ of Britain’s housing market.
It calls for social homes to be provided for millions who fail to qualify under the current system, including young families and elderly people who are ‘trapped’ in private rented accommodation.
Shelter research last year revealed more than 100,000 households have been stuck on council house waiting lists for more than 10 years because the number of social homes has dwindled to an all time low.
Social housing is set aside for those in most need and is generally dedicated to long term tenancies.
The charity says the lack of it has led to ‘a drop in the numbers of young families moving into ownership, the rise of pensioners in insecure unaffordable private rentals, and the homelessness that scars our society’.
Chief executive of the National Housing Federation, Kate Henderson, said: “The housing crisis is chronic. It affects every single part of the country from coastal communities to rural villages to many of our inner-city areas.
“This report reveals the scale of the crisis but also puts forward a series of very positive recommendations about the role of social hosing in meeting our national housing need and solving the housing crisis.
A government spokesman said: “Councils have been given extra freedom to build the social homes their communities need and expect.
“A further £2bn had been committed as part of a 10-year home building programme through to 2028.”