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Housing supply

Everyone needs access to secure, decent housing. In the UK the supply of housing has not been keeping up with demand. Getting access to housing of any type is becoming increasingly difficult for low income households and particularly single homeless people. 

We collect evidence on the impact of government housing policy on homelessness and work with MPs and peers to raise these issues in parliament. We work to highlight the need for more homes for single homeless people whether in the social or private sector. 

What needs to change

In England we are calling on the Government to allocate an increased share of the funding for new housing provision specifically to the provision of more homes affordable to those on the lowest incomes, including those in low paid work. Read more about housing supply in England

In Scotland we are calling on the Government to ensure that homeless people have access to secure, decent, affordable rented housing. Read more about housing supply in Scotland

The issue

Social housing provided by councils and housing associations for people in housing need is becoming increasingly scarce. The number of social rented homes in England fell by 120,000 between 2012 and 2016, taking the total number of social rented homes below 4 million. Another 120,000 social rented homes are likely to be lost from the social housing stock between 2016 and 2020. (See Inside Housing article - subscriber content.)

The reason for this fall is that not enough homes are being built to replace those being taken out of the social housing stock.  This happens when homes are sold through Right to Buy or are moved into a higher rent bracket known as “affordable rent”. The Government encourages social housing providers to put a proportion of homes into the higher rent bracket to raise money for building new “affordable rent” homes.

Read more about our work on housing affordability.

Response to the Public Accounts Committee “Housing – State of the Nation” Inquiry (Word) - February 2017

England

In 2015/16 only 23,100 new social homes were built in England. 6550 new social rented homes were built by councils and housing associations. A further 16,550 were built for affordable rent. 

This compares with the construction of nearly 39,000 new social homes for rent in 2010/11. This was the last year when the Government funded the construction of social rented homes. (see Affordable Housing Supply 2015-16 (Gov.uk).)

In England single homeless people are unlikely to have a priority for help from councils under the homelessness legislation. As the supply of social rented homes has decreased, single people have had less access to social housing. This means single homeless people often have no choice but to look for housing in the private rented sector. Read more about private renting.

The Government has chosen to spend more of the funding available for housing on low cost home ownership and “affordable” rented housing. We believe that a greater share of the available funding should be spent on housing for those on the lowest incomes. 

See more about our work on housing affordability. 

Scotland

In Scotland there is not the same distinction between the rights of single people and homeless families. Single people in Scotland should be able to get help to find permanent accommodation through their local council.

The Scottish Government is taking some measures to address housing supply. For example they abolished the right to buy social homes in 2016. They have also set a target to deliver 35,000 additional social rented homes between 2016/17 and 2020/21.

We believe that greater action is needed to make sure homeless people have access to secure, decent and affordable rented housing. 

Read more about research into housing models and services in the knowledge hub