Invest in social housing to end housing crisis, says report

The Royal Institute of British Architects is calling on the government to end the housing crisis by giving support to local authorities to deliver the next generation of council housing across England.

In their latest report, ‘Homes for all: Putting council housing at the heart of local recovery’, the RIBA calls for urgent investment in social housing, concluding that not only would this provide high-quality, safe and sustainable homes for those in need, it would also generate a huge jobs boost across the country.

The charity Crisis recently calculated that the government needs to build 90,000 new homes per year to meet demand. The RIBA argues that delivering these homes would not only tackle the housing crisis, it would also create over a quarter of a million new jobs each year.

To deliver the new homes required, the RIBA recommends: the Treasury removes borrowing and spending restrictions on local authorities and provides grant funding for new social housing to help lower long-term housing support costs; the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government provides local authorities with the freedom to set their own planning fees to ensure they can adequately invest in resourcing to cover development management responsibilities; and Homes England explores solutions to meeting the capacity shortages within local government planning teams and places greater emphasis on quality design in funding programmes.

Alan Jones, RIBA President, said: “The UK has some of the worst housing in Europe. Too many people find themselves living in sub-standard, unhealthy housing that fails to meet their needs. There are over one million households on the waiting list for social housing in England alone, with many of these are currently living in poorly maintained, short-term and expensive privately rented homes. This is a stark illustration of the scale of our housing crisis.

“We urgently need a radical new approach to council housing that will deliver safe, low carbon, healthy homes and spaces around them. Housing that creates identity, pride and belonging, and helps to drive the recovery from the economic impact of Covid-19 by creating new jobs and boosting our economy. With wide-ranging reforms to the planning system on the agenda, it is vital that government addresses the factors that have contributed to the failing system. If the government is serious about ‘Building Back Better’ it needs to back local authorities to invest in their communities and build homes fit for the future.”