Commission outlines need for more than three million new social homes

By Laura Sharman | 08 January 2019

More than three million new social homes are needed to tackle the housing crisis over the next 20 years, according to a new report from Shelter’s independent social housing commission.

The commission, set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, is calling on the Government to invest in a major 20-year housebuilding programme.

This includes 1.27 million homes for those in the greatest housing needs, 1.17 million homes for ‘trapped renters’ and 690,000 homes for older private renters.

Analysis for the commission shows it would cost the Government £10.7bn a year during the construction phrase of this programme, but two-thirds of this could be recouped through housing benefit savings and increased tax revenue each year.

The investment would pay for itself after 39 years, the analysis also revealed.

Commissioner Lord Jim O’Neill said: ‘There needs to be a profound shift to see social housing as a national asset like any other infrastructure. A home is the foundation of individual success in life, and public housebuilding can be the foundation of national success. It is the only hope the government has of hitting its 300,000 homes a year target.

‘The government’s budget for capital expenditure is £62bn a year - our housebuilding programme would cost only a fraction and is well within its financial reach. With current spending on housing benefit shockingly inefficient, it’s not hard to see what an investment in bricks and mortar could do to help solve the housing crisis and boost our economy.’

The report also calls for a new Ofsted-style consumer regulator?to protect residents and to enforce common standards?across social and private renting.

Cllr Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: 'The last time we built enough homes councils built 40% of them. We need to get back to those levels if we’re to tackle our housing crisis, building a new generation of at least 100,000 high quality social homes a year.

'However, every housing market is different and resolving the challenge must mean allowing every council to ensure that new and existing social housing best meets local need. Critical to this goal will be allowing councils to keep 100% of their Right to Buy receipts and to set discounts locally.'

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