Housing

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: 'We need to end short-termism to fix the housing crisis'

The Church of England has unveiled a long-term vision to fix England’s housing crisis through the creation of a new Climate Change Committee-style national housing body

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury described the long-running housing crisis as "corrosive" and called for policy makers to plan for the future. Image: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office / Flickr

Short-term decision-making and decades of piecemeal, party political approaches to the housing crisis have hurt people’s health and stunted social and economic growth, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Justin Welby revealed the Church of England’s long-term vision to fix the housing system in England, calling on policymakers and the entire nation to get behind a core strategy to transform the “corrosive” crisis by 2050.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s rallying cry includes calls for the government to legislate for a Climate Change Committee-style national housing body to provide independent scrutiny of decisions affecting housing policy.

Everyone should have a home that is comfortable and safe, and in a thriving community where they can flourish,” said Welby, who will launch his ‘Homes for All’ vision in the House of Lords on St George’s Day (23 April).

“But for many people in England, home means something very different. It is somewhere that is often expensive or temporary, insecure or unhealthy. These problems are blighting the lives and futures of millions of people, and we all have a moral responsibility to put it right.

“We must end the short-termism that is having a corrosive effect on our society and our economy. We can do this by agreeing a single vision of what a real home means and by creating a national housing body, akin to the Climate Change Committee, to help deliver that vision and transform England’s housing system.”

The Church of England joined housing experts from the Nationwide Foundation and the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, as well as former National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr to develop the long-term vision.

It is asking policymakers to put aside political differences to commit to ending the country’s long-running housing crisis over the next 25 years.

The report aims to define what is meant by ‘good homes’, an ‘effective housing market’, a ‘well-functioning housing system’ and ‘effective housing policy-making’. 

It lays out 25 key outcomes for housing in England, including setting high minimum quality  standards and offering people genuinely affordable housing choices throughout their life.

The report also charts a future where different parts of the housing system – from rental sector to construction and social housing – will work together rather than against each other and how housing can complement healthcare, social care, finance and social security.

To do that by 2050, the next government must finally deliver on the long-held target of building 300,000 new homes each year and slash the record-high 109,000 households in temporary accommodation by more than half to a maximum of 50,000.

Ministers should also improve affordability and quality standards to ensure no more than one in 20 households live in a home that does not meet the decent homes standard and no household has to pay more than 35% of their disposable income on housing costs.

A Housing Strategy Committee – modelled on the existing Climate Change Committee – would be set up under the Archbishop of Canterbury and Church of England’s plans.

The national body would provide annual reports to parliament on progress and hold the government to account.

The committee would also work across different types of housing tenure to bring greater coherence and co-ordination to housing policy. The report suggests giving the committee powers similar to the New Town Development Corporations of the 1960s and the 1970s could crack barriers to building new housing.

The plan has already attracted the support of housing and homelessness groups including think tank New Economics Foundation, Crisis, the National Housing Federation, the British Property Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Housing Forum.

Now the next step is to convince political parties gearing up to compete on the general election campaign trail to look to the future. Labour revealed its housing plan last week with Kier Starmer setting out plans to build on the ‘grey belt’ to deliver 1.5 million homes.

Interim Nationwide Foundation chief executive Samantha Stewart said: “Homes are the foundations for our lives. We need to stop fixing the cracks in this piecemeal fashion. By overhauling our housing system with a long-term vision, and the means to follow through on it, we can restore the solid base that our society is built on.”

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them
Renters angry at no-fault evictions, Renters Reform Bill delay and a lack of rent controls
RENTING

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'
Housing crisis

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?
Scottish first minister John Swinney
Housing

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell
Homelessness

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know