Minister for Leveling Up Michael Gove has announced he will ’tilt’ government funding to build more social rented accommodation, as Shelter reveals more than 4.4 million private tenants in England (40 per cent) are held back in life by their housing situation.
The charity’s poll by YouGov found that more than half of private tenants (52%) – equivalent to 5.8 million people – cannot save for the future because of their housing situation. Meanwhile, government figures show there are more than a million households on the waiting list for secure social housing in England, the only type of truly affordable housing with rents geared to local incomes .
Shelter held its Westminster event ahead of next month’s Queen’s Speech with former Prime Minister Theresa May and voices from business, politics, faith and housing. The conference presented the role of social housing in social mobility and the leveling of the country. Panelists included social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa, journalist and author Liam Halligan and Bishop of Barking Lynne Cullens.
In his first major housing speech, Minister for Upgrading, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, said: “We have arrived at a situation for various reasons where… the availability of social housing is simply insufficient for any notion of social justice. or economic efficiency.
“The quality of the private rental sector, the circumstances people find themselves in, the inadequacy of so many of these homes, the fragility and vulnerability that so many people find in their daily lives…is unbearable and indefensible… it’s a function of broader supply issues, but it’s also a critical function of our failure to ensure that there are truly affordable rental units, our failure to ensure that there are more social housing.
“If we want to have functioning communities, if we want our cities and towns to have places where the workers and key individuals who keep our public services running can make sure they have a decent roof over of their heads and raise a family in stability and security, then we need more social housing.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May added: “One of the challenges I set myself when I spoke from the steps of Downing Street at the start of my term as Prime Minister, was to continue the vital work of to make this country a country where every person has a safe and secure home to call their own. Because our homes are our foundation. Ask almost any question about social equity or the economy and the answer often comes down to housing.
“The high cost of housing is at the heart of failing social mobility. Basically, it’s a conservative philosophy that whether you own your own home or rent in the social sector, residents deserve safety, dignity and the opportunity to build a better life for themselves. We know our housing system is broken, but the housing crisis in this country did not start because of a year-long jolt or because of a parliament, but because there is no hasn’t had enough houses built over several decades.
She continued, “For too long, my party has been seen in the eyes of many people as the only homeownership party. Indeed, dare I say it, our politicians have too often made people believe it. But we are the party of decent housing for all, whether it is people who wish to rent their accommodation or become owners. Moreover, supporting those who are struggling to find accommodation to rent is in no way at odds with boosting home ownership.
‘The Queen’s Speech provides an opportunity to present the measure which requires primary legislation, including those reforming the regulation of private tenancy and social tenants which will tip the scales in favor of fairness.’
When asked about government funding for new homes, the general public put social housing at the top of the list over other types of homes like condominiums and affordable rent. Currently, truly affordable social housing receives the least public funding.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “A long line of governments have focused on home ownership schemes for the better off, rather than what most local families need – a home. security they can afford.
“Unstable private tenancy is a lifelong prospect for millions of people, who are forced to pay private rents that leave them no room to maneuver or save for their future. Families want to put down roots and play a active role in their community, but their housing holds them back.
“Good social housing is as vital as education or healthcare, but it has been deprioritized for decades. If we try to level up without social housing, we will only push people out.