Report calls for construction of 3m more social homes
Image: Andrew Hamilton/Dreamstime
A cross-party commission has called for a massive drive to build more social and council homes.
The commission was convened by housing charity Shelter and its commissioners include former Labour leader Ed Miliband, former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi, and former Conservative Treasury minister Lord O’Neill.
Following the Grenfell Tower disaster in which 72 people died, the 16 independent commissioners have produced a report which recommended a 20-year construction programme to deliver 3.1m more social homes.
A total of 20 organisations submitted evidence to the commission, ranging from the Local Government Association to mental health charity Mind, while 13 public housing debates were held across the country.
Shelter pointed to figures showing that from the Second World War up until 1980, around 126,000 social homes were built every year, compared to 6,463 last year.
Housebuilding in England 1923-2018 (source: Shelter)
The report also claimed that the construction of social housing had a positive influence on the housebuilding market itself, highlighting that during the post-war boom in public housebuilding, private housebuilding peaked at the same time as social housebuilding. “Smaller, regional building firms were able to work on contract to the authorities while also taking on speculative developments themselves. This symbiotic relationship may have helped them survive downturns, preserving overall industry capacity and lessening the volatility of the business cycle itself,” the report said.
Commenting on the report, Lord O’Neill said: “We must make a profound and generational shift away from a belief that housing benefits alone can solve this problem, and back towards investment in bricks and mortar and a view that affordable housing is a national asset like other infrastructure.”