Survey finds strong public support for more social housing

By agency reporter
August 15, 2019

Almost three-quarters of people across Great Britain believe there is a housing crisis – and more than half think we are not talking about it enough, according to a new survey by Ipsos MORI for the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). The survey also shows most people do not believe the political parties are giving the issue a lot of attention.

The results show strong public support for more social housing. By large margins the Great British public thinks social housing is important because it helps people on lower incomes get housing which would not be affordable in the private rented sector (76 per cent agree) and helps to tackle poverty (68 per cent agree).

CIH chief executive Terrie Alafat said: “These results send a very clear message to the new government. The housing crisis is real, and we are simply not doing enough. It’s clear that the British public supports more social housing.

“On Friday, the Chancellor announced he was ‘fast-tracking' the comprehensive spending review. Here is a golden opportunity for ministers to make the ambitious changes on housing which could start to make a real difference.

“Our survey shows overwhelming support for more social housing, which is why CIH has joined the National Housing Federation, Shelter, Crisis and the campaign for the Protection of Rural England to make clear what the government needs to do to end the housing crisis in England.

“We have called for a 10-year programme to build 145,000 affordable homes a year, with 90,000 of those at social rents. This would cost £12.8 billion a year and would return spending levels to those under Winston Churchill in the early 1950s.

“That programme would unlock billions of pounds of funding from the housing industry and add an additional 120 billion pounds to the economy each year through the creation of local jobs. And much of this could be achieved by rebalancing the existing housing budget, which overwhelmingly supports building houses for sale. In the long run, investing in social housing offers great value for money.

“The housing crisis is an economic, social and human catastrophe. But it can be solved. There is a solution; a solution that would add billions to our national economy and help millions of our fellow-citizens.”

The survey shows:

  • 73 per cent believe there is a housing crisis in Britain and 67 per cent think that the government can do something about the country’s housing problems
  • 57 per cent think that the rising cost of housing will have an impact on them personally a great deal or a fair amount during the next five years – 56 per cent say the same of Brexit
  • Overall, 55 per cent of the public, and 68 per cent of renters, think housing has been discussed too little in Britain over the last few years
  • 52 per cent of people support the building of new homes locally, up from 40 per cent five years ago

The survey finds a downbeat mood among renters in particular:

  • 45 per cent of private renters and 43 per cent of social renters are concerned about their ability to pay rent at present (29 per cent of mortgage holders are concerned about repayment)
  • Of those renting or living at home with their parents, 61 per cent think they will never be able to afford to buy a home
  • More than a third of private renters, 38 per cent, worry they will have to leave their local area because of the unaffordable cost of housing
  • 36 per cent of people in London, whether renting or buying, are concerned they may have to move because of the cost of housing; nationally the figure is 22 per cent

Terrie Alafat said: “We support the aspiration of those who want to buy their own home, but for many others home-ownership is either not an aspiration or not an option. We need to make sure everyone has a place to call home, and this survey reinforces what we’ve been saying for a long time – for too many people housing is simply unaffordable.

“This survey shows that people believe the government can and should do something about the housing crisis. We have given the government a solution: a solution that would add billions to our national economy and help millions of our fellow-citizens.”

* Chartered Institute of Housing


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