by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Mortgage Strategy
'Lack of Social Housing has plunged England into an Emergency'
Only half of private renters in England say that their home has made them feel safe during the pandemic, Shelter has claimed as it calls for the government to invest £12bn in social housing. The charity’s Building Our Way Out report argues that the lack of social housing has plunged England into an emergency, which has been exacerbated by the pressures of the Covid-19 crisis. However, the government says it does not recognise Shelter’s figures, nor the report’s depiction of the housing landscape.
Shelter’s poll carried out by YouGov, found that 25 per cent of private renting adults said that their housing situation made lockdown harder to cope with. Shelter says that private tenants are twice as likely to have struggled than tenants in secure social homes. It found that in the latter group, only 13 per cent reported difficulties. The charity says that the government’s existing provision for delivering new social homes is “woefully inadequate”. It warns that there is currently only enough funding set aside to provide one social home for every 96 households on the waiting list. Meanwhile the housing benefit bill is forecast to hit £24bn per year by 2024/25, without accounting for the impact of the pandemic.
Shelter is calling on the government to introduce a rescue package to deliver the social homes needed. Its research suggests that 19 per cent of private renters, or 1.6m adults, are constantly struggling with their rent or are already falling behind. Around a third of private renters, or 3m adults, live in poor conditions, with electrical hazards, pests or damp issues in their home. Furthermore, 43 per cent of privately-renting tenants, or 3.6m people, said they pay too much for the quality of home they have. Finally, the research found that a lack of indoor living space made lockdown harder for 29 per cent of tenants or 2.4m people. Shelter chief executive Polly Neate says: “Our homes are our first line of defence in this pandemic. “But millions have spent months trapped in private rentals they do not trust to keep them safe. “And right now, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. “After decades of decline, a dire lack of social homes means too many people, pay too much for cramped and poor-quality housing.
“Or worse yet, they find themselves with nowhere to live. “With the stakes so high, the case for building decent social homes is clear.” “Shelter’s report calls for a targeted rescue package of £12.2bn over the next two years to fund a total of 50,000 new social homes, out of a total of 145,000 new affordable homes. “These 50,000 new social homes equate to almost four times the number of social homes currently delivered each year. “Funding this programme could kickstart the post Covid recovery and reverse years of decline in social housebuilding.” “Before a thundercloud of homelessness breaks over us, the chancellor needs to be as swift and bold on housing as we’ve seen him be on jobs.” Property firm Ringley’s managing director Mary-Anne Bowring says:
“Fundamentally, this research is a damning indictment of our collective failure to build enough new homes of all types and tenures over the past few decades. “However, it is important not to demonise landlords, many of whom have worked closely with their tenants during the pandemic and lockdown to reassure them about the security of their tenancy despite facing considerable financial uncertainty themselves. “The government cannot expect buy-to-let investors to subsidise renters indefinitely and are now facing higher loan repayments as loan repayment holidays did not extend the term but increased the cost. “We need to see firmer and greater action than what the chancellor has announced when it comes to supporting households monetarily.”
A government spokesman says: “We do not recognise these figures. “We’ve taken unprecedented action to protect renters including a six-month ban on evictions, as well as preventing people getting into financial hardship by helping businesses to pay salaries and boosting the welfare safety net by over £9bn. “Renters will continue to be protected through winter, including 6-month notice periods and instructing bailiffs not to enforce evictions in areas of local lockdown – anyone now served notice will not have to leave their home except in the most serious cases, such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse. “Anyone worried about losing their home and not having anywhere else to go should speak to their local council, which has a duty in law to help prevent them becoming homeless.”
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