NEW UK GOVERNMENT FIGURES released on 26 January reveal a net loss of 14,100 social homes in England last year, as demolitions and sales far outstripped the number of new homes built.  

Housing charity Shelter is urging the government to make building more genuinely affordable social homes a central part of its new Levelling Up Bill, and in doing so, reverse decades of decline. The charity argues this is essential to combatting the country’s housing emergency.

The new statistics reveal:

  • 21,600 social homes were either sold or demolished in 2021/22, while only 7,500 new homes were built, leading to a net loss of14,100 homes.

  • In the last decade, there has been a total net loss of 165,000 social homes (between 2012/13 and 2021/22).

  • 1.2 million households in England are currently stuck on waiting lists for a social home, a rise of five per cent in the last two years.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “We are firmly in the red when it comes to social housing. We lose far more homes than we build every year and the losses are mounting up.

“The social housing deficit is at the heart of the housing emergency. The fundamental lack of genuinely affordable homes has pushed millions of people into insecure, expensive and often discriminatory private renting. It is why we have over a million households waiting for a decent social home, and thousands of homeless children are growing up in temporary accommodation.

“The solution is simple: build more social housing. The UK government can’t afford to allow this decline to stretch into another decade if it has any hopes of meaningfully levelling up. Instead, it must invest in a new generation of the homes we really need – secure, genuinely social housing.”

To calculate the estimated net loss of social housing, Shelter compared the number of social rent homes completed with the number of social homes lost through sales and demolitions. Between 2012/13 and 2021/22, a total of 84,215 social rent homes were delivered, but 193,845 social homes were lost through sales and 55,392 were lost through demolitions. This works out as a total net loss of 165,022 social homes in the last ten years.

* Source: Shelter England