England facing shortfall of four million homes

The National Housing Federation has said that a new housing settlement is needed as it is revealed that England’s total housing need backlog has reached four million homes.

Conducted by Heriot-Watt University, the research suggests that the country needs to build 340,000 homes per year until 2031 to meet the backlog and provide for future demand, higher that the government’s target of 300,000 homes annually.

However, 145,000 of these new homes must be affordable homes, meaning that aprroximately two-fifths of all new homes built every year must be affordable homes. However, in 2016/17, only around 23 per cent of the total built were affordable homes.

Furthermore, the new research says that, of these houses, 90,000 should be for social rent, 30,000 should be for intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 should be for shared ownership. The federation says that a new housing settlement must address the current shortage, including providing a home for everyone who currently needs one, including homeless people, private tenants spending huge amounts on rent, children unable to leave the family home, and even couples delaying having children because they are stuck in unsuitable housing.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “This groundbreaking new research shows the epic scale of the housing crisis in England. The shortfall of homes can't be met overnight – instead, we need an urgent effort from the government to meet this need, before it publishes its social housing green paper in the summer.

“The green paper will set out the government’s approach to tackling a number of key issues, like stigma of social housing tenants. However, it is clear that many of these stem from a chronic underinvestment in affordable housing. Fixing this should be the government's top priority. As a first step, ministers should make the £2 billion they promised for social rent available immediately. The government must also totally change the way it sells surplus land. The priority here must be supporting developments that will deliver a public good on public land, rather than simply selling it off to the highest bidder.”

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, added: “This new report once again highlights the chronic housing shortage we face in the UK and it is clear that only a bold and ambitious plan to solve the housing crisis will prevent a decent, genuinely affordable home being out of reach for our children and their children.

“What the report also shows is that this isn’t just a numbers game and we have to make sure we build the right homes, in the right places and that people can afford them. For most people social rented housing is the only truly affordable option and the government must support the building of many more of these crucial homes. It should also urgently address the imbalance in its housing budget, which currently sees it spend just 21 per cent of total housing funding on affordable housing, and give all of the organisations ready to deliver the homes we so desperately need the support and resource to do so.”

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