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Build three million homes to fix housing problem and help ‘trapped renters’ – Shelter

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Shelter says the government needs to build 3.1 million new social homes to fix England’s housing problem, with more than a million going to ‘trapped renters’ who cannot afford to buy.

Following the the Grenfell Tower fire, the charity brought together 16 independent commissioners across the political spectrum to examine the crisis in England.

The report published today recommends the government invests in a major 20-year housebuilding programme, which would offer a social home to millions who fail to qualify under the current system.

It said 1.27 million homes should go to “those in greatest housing need” – homeless households, those living with a disability or long-term illness, or living in very poor conditions.

It also calls for 1.17 million homes for ‘trapped renters’ – younger families who cannot afford to buy and face a lifetime in expensive and insecure private renting, and 690,000 homes for older private renters – people over 55 struggling with high housing costs and insecurity beyond retirement.

The report says politicians “cannot remain idle” when half of young people have no chance of ever buying a home, private renters on lower incomes spend an average of 67% of their earnings on rent, and almost 280,000 people in England are homeless.

The programme would require an average yearly investment of £10.7bn during the construction phase, but Capital Economics, which carried out analysis for the report, estimates that up to two-thirds of this could be recouped through housing benefit savings and increased tax revenue each year.

The Capital Economics research also shows that existing products such as Help-to-Buy are a less effective use of taxpayer money.

Commissioner Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said: “Social mobility has been decimated by decades of political failure to address our worsening housing crisis. Half of young people cannot buy, and thousands face the horror of homelessness.

“Our vision for social housing presents a vital political opportunity to reverse this decay. It offers the chance of a stable home to millions of people, providing much needed security and a step up for young families trying to get on in life and save for their future. We simply cannot afford not to act.”

Commissioner Ed Miliband MP said: “The time for the government to act is now. We have never felt so divided as a nation, but building social homes is priority for people right across our country. This is a moment for political boldness on social housing investment that we have not seen for a generation.

“It is the way to restore hope, build strong communities, and fix the broken housing market so that we meet both the needs and the aspirations of millions of people.”

Lucie, 30, works full-time as a welfare case officer for a charity. She rents privately along with her two children aged eleven and six. Lucie and her family have had to move eight times since her daughter was born in 2007.

“I really feel that if I’d been offered social housing and I’d been able to live somewhere affordable for the last ten years, I think I’d probably be in a position now where I could buy my own property, and that social home could then go back to someone else who needs it,” she said.

“But because I’ve had to move so many times, and rents are so high – the financial implications have been devastating. It simply hasn’t been possible for me to save the money. Just that little bit of stability for me and my children would have made a big difference.”

The recommendations will be presented to the Prime Minister and to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later today.