3.8 Million People are in Need of Social Housing in England

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Gudrun Haskins-Carlisle, Services Director.

The National Housing Federation’s ‘People in Housing Need’ annual report has yesterday been published, with 3.8 million people in need of social housing in England. This number equates to 1.6 million households, an increase of 500,000 from the official waiting lists.

Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social housing is expected to see a sharp increase, as estimates note that low-income earners are roughly twice as likely to lose their jobs.

With a severe shortage of social homes already, some in need of housing have been on waiting lists for nearly two decades, and with the pandemic seeing more and more people requiring social housing, the wait for many will continue.

Last year only 6,338 new social rented homes were built, yet the number of people in need of social housing has increased by 165,000 in the last two years alone. Social rented homes, which typically make up 50% of market rent, needs long term investment to ensure suitable and affordable homes can be provided. The report also shows that 3.4 million people are living in overcrowded homes, with 8 million experiencing some sort of housing need.

The sharp increase in those needing houses when compared with those from the official waiting lists is due to councils prioritising those who have actually applied and fit certain criteria. There are numerous existing challenging aspects for people trying to access social housing as well, such and debt and previous convictions.

The National Housing Federation is working with a coalition of charities, including Horton Housing and our subsidiary Chartford Housing, as well as businesses and banks in the Homes at The Heart campaign, calling on the Government to place an emphasis on building social homes, especially as we recover from the impact of COVID-19.

As difficult as the immediate effects of the pandemic have been, the National Housing Federation’s CEO Kate Henderson warns that the existing housing issues, coupled with the long-term financial implications of job losses, is an unprecedented problem for the country.

“Today’s report shows that the sharp end of the housing crisis is getting sharper, and at a rapid rate. Under-investment in social housing has left us with virtually no affordable homes available for people on the lowest incomes.

“Everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable home and social housing provides that vital safety net for low income people including thousands of key workers who have been keeping our country going at this time. We are calling on the Government to commit to a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing and put homes at the heart of its plans for economic and social recovery.”

For the full report, click here.