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Housing

‘It’s beyond belief’: Only one social home built for every 192 households on waiting lists

Just over 10 per cent of the affordable homes built last year were for social rent and almost half of the local authorities in England didn’t build a single one.

The number of social rent homes built last year fell by more than 10 per cent as England’s housing crisis shows no sign of stopping.

Just under 6,000 were built, according to government figures, amounting to one for every 192 households of the million stuck on housing waiting lists. 

While in total 52,100 affordable homes were completed between April 2020 and March 2021, only 11 per cent were social rent homes which are considered the most affordable tenure of housing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The fact only 11 per cent of “affordable homes” built last year were genuinely affordable social homes is beyond belief – especially when thousands of renters are edging closer towards homelessness.

“Building a few thousand social homes a year given over a million households are stuck on social housing waiting lists, just doesn’t cut it.”

The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign has been warning that thousands of renters face losing their home this winter due to the impact of Covid-19 with rising living costs and a shortage of affordable housing.

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Neate shares The Big Issue’s concerns and called for the UK government to ramp up efforts to build social rent homes.

“This is exactly the time for the government to start putting its money into the right place, by building the only type of housing that’s actually affordable by design. Investing in sustainable social homes will give us the best odds of levelling up the country,” she added.

The 5,955 new social rent homes delivered last year represented a 12 per cent decrease on the previous year as well as a steep fall of 85 per cent from ten years ago.

In total, 150 local authorities – almost half of the councils in England – did not deliver a social home last year.

Government grants funded 1,492 of the 5,955 social rent homes that were completed and accounted for three per cent of the 52,100 affordable homes delivered overall.

However, statisticians noted two explanations for the fall in productivity, citing the Covid-19 lockdown in place in England in early 2021 as well as the tendency for a drop during the early part of a new funding programme.

The Westminster government told The Big Issue they have extended the current £9bn Affordable Homes Programme until 2023 to protect delivery of homes lost due to Covid-19.

The new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, a government spokesperson claimed,  should economic conditions allow.

“We supported the industry throughout the pandemic by enabling construction sites to remain open and operate safely in line with public guidance,” said DLUHC spokesperson. 

 “We continue to invest in increasing the supply of affordable homes to end the housing crisis, tackle homelessness and provide aspiring homeowners with a step onto the housing ladder.”

However, the figures attracted criticism from Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell.

The opposition MP told the government: “You can’t level up without fulfilling promises for new high speed lines in the North, or without housing affordable to local people.”

A lack of affordable social homes is driving people to the private rented sector where they are subjected to unaffordable rents.

This week property site Zoopla said soaring demand for homes in the sector was driving up rent prices to a 13-year high.

With Covid-19’s disruption on the economy and the jobs market, thousands of renters are struggling to make ends meet and run the risk of falling into homelessness.

The Big Issue has set up the Stop Mass Homelessness campaign to prevent this. Sign our petition and find out how you can get involved here.

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