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Housing

Social housing sales drop 30% as campaigners call for ‘serious investment’ in home building

The figures reveal the extent of the social housing crisis.

Campaigners have called for “serious investment” from the government as new figures showed a significant drop in the sale of social housing in the first year of the pandemic.

New figures show a 30 per cent decrease in the sale of social homes between 2020-2021. Of the 17,262 sales made, 42 per cent were local authority owned and 58 per cent were owned by private registered providers. The number of sales of social housing varies significantly across regions and is driven predominantly by the number of right to buy sales. 

“There are over a million households stuck on the waiting list for a social home, unsure of when or if they will ever get the chance of a secure home with a rent they can actually afford”, said Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, a leading charity campaigning to end bad housing and homelessness in the UK. 

In January a Lords housing committee said it was “vital” that more money is spent on building more affordable homes. This includes social housing, and urged the government to address shortages in skills and land to do so.

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Many in immediate need of an affordable home are forced to rent privately until they can find an alternative. This is often far more costly and can push those struggling to keep up with rent into poverty. 

“We have been losing social homes to sales and demolitions far faster than we’re building new ones. Last year we built less than 6,000 new social homes and that just isn’t good enough. We need serious investment from the government for a new high-quality generation of social housing, or we will continue to see homes disappear while waiting lists grow” she said. 

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While less than 6,000 new social homes were built in the UK last year, the report highlights that nearly 4,000 social house dwellings were demolished.

“We are investing 11.5 billion in affordable housing – the largest investment in a decade which will deliver 180,000 homes should economic conditions allow,” a spokesperson for Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities told The Big Issue. 

“We are delivering affordable homes of a variety of tenures so that we can support a range of people in different circumstances and stages in their lives.”

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