Housing

Social rent homes plummeted by 200,000 in eight years, warns housing review

The housing crisis deepened between 2012 and 2020, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing. But the Government hit back, calling findings ‘flawed’

A builder's hard hat

Social rent homes are not being built in great enough numbers, experts warn. Image credit: ZeeChow/Pixabay

The housing crisis has deepened in the last eight years as more than 200,000 of the most genuinely affordable homes have been lost in England, according to new analysis.

Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) annual UK Housing Review revealed the 70,000 social rent homes built between 2012 and 2020 were dwarfed by the 280,000 homes converted to higher rents, demolished or sold.

Gavin Smart, chief executive of the CIH, said: “The review shows the drastic effects that policy changes over the past few years have had on the supply of homes at lower ‘social’ rents.

“CIH has called for the investment needed to build 90,000 homes per year at social rents to address the backlog of housing need that has built up. It has also asked the government to suspend right to buy to help deal with the housing crisis, which the pandemic has only made worse.”

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Social rent homes have been neglected over successive governments, causing the demand for council houses to outstrip supply. The Local Government Association warned last year that waiting lists could hit two million people during the pandemic.

The genuinely affordable homes remain an important tool in tackling homelessness with campaigners such as Shelter and Crisis echoing the CIH’s calls for an influx of new properties to meet demand.

But right to buy sales amounted to a loss of 121,000 over the eight-year period with conversions to ‘affordable’ rents seeing 116,000 homes lost from England’s stock.

However, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have hit back at CIH’s findings, describing them as “flawed” and taking issue with the decision to not count affordable rent homes in the warning.

The review makes clear that building social rented homes addresses the most urgent housing needs and is the best use of public money

That genuinely affordable housing stock is sitting far below devolved nations, according to Mark Stephens, professor of urban studies at the University of Glasgow and one of the review’s main authors.

He said: “Our work shows that only 11 per cent of new ‘affordable’ homes built in England are at genuinely affordable social rents, compared with nearly 70 per cent in Scotland and over 80 per cent in Wales.

“In contrast to England, Scotland’s social rented stock has grown by 25,000 over the last five years. Scotland and Wales have both halted right to buy. The review makes clear that building social rented homes addresses the most urgent housing needs and is the best use of public money.”

CIH’s review warns the impact of Covid-19 is likely to be felt in the months and years ahead. Just 10,531 affordable homes of all types were started under grant-funded programmes in the first half of 2020/21, compared with 17,980 for the equivalent period in 2019/20.

The Westminster Government has pledged to invest heavily in house-building in a bid to end the long-running housing crisis.

A new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme is promising 180,000 new homes will be delivered over the next five years.

But CIH has warned that will include just 32,000 new social rented homes outside London in the next five years.

While this figure is 4,000 more than in the previous five years, the housing body has insisted it will not replace future losses through right to buy sales.

https://twitter.com/crisis_uk/status/1376494511824764931

Affordable rent homes are considered to fit the criteria when the rent is 20 per cent below local market rates, but it is widely argued that this rate is still out of reach for some of the UK’s poorest. Social rent homes tend to be available at cheaper rent but are in short supply.

A Government spokesperson said: “This is a flawed analysis that doesn’t compare like with like and excludes key aspects of supply and demand – including the fact that affordable rent is an important part of social housing supply.

“We’ve delivered 517,000 new affordable homes since 2010, including 148,000 for social rent. We’re investing over £12 billion over five years, the largest investment in a decade, to provide up to 180,000 new homes – with half for affordable and social rent.”

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
Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'
Homelessness

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

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