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New research highlights post pandemic benefits of building social rented homes 13/10/2021 Labelled as Development, Legislation, Tenants

Ahead of the Chancellors Spending Review later this month a new report,Building post-pandemic prosperity, jointly commissioned by ARCH, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), sets out the case for building 100,000 green social homes for rent each year as part of the recovery from COVID-19, to help deliver net zero housing and "level-up" the nation.


As at March 2020 there were already over 1.1 million households on council housing waiting lists with one in ten households in need of housing stuck on council waiting lists for over five years as a result of the chronic shortage of affordable homes. The report estimates there are a further 500,000 families with hidden housing needs than currently recorded on housing waiting lists.


The research reveals that as a result of the pandemic, the number of households on council housing waiting lists could increase significantly over the coming months due to the impact of the winding down of Covid-related support schemes and a potential increase in homelessness.


Giving councils the powers and funding to provide 100,000 social rented homes each year - a third of the government's current target of building 300,000 new homes each year  - would deliver a return of £24.5 billion into government coffers over 30 years through savings in housing related support, tax yields from builders and supply chains and reduced spending on the NHS as people move into decent affordable green housing.


The report's research argues that investing public money into construction of social rented housing would support the Government's levelling up agenda by creating jobs, both nationally and for the communities most in need of new, good quality and affordable housing. It would enable the targeting of investment to less prosperous local economies and hold it, in the form of new homes and the income they generate, in the national infrastructure.


Arch is supporting the LGA's call on the Chancellor to use this month's Spending Review to give councils the powers and funding to build 100,000 social homes for rent each year, which would not only achieve a third of the Government's annual housing target but would support the Government's ambitions to "Level Up" and improve the public finances over 30 years by £24.5 billion.


Further reforms to the Right to Buy, by allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts, have flexibility to combine Right to Buy receipts with other government grants and be able to set the size of discounts locally would assist.


Launching the report, John Bibby, ARCH Chief Executive, said:


"The supply of social rented housing is simply not keeping up with demand. This report highlights that, unless action is taken now to build more social rented housing, the situation for many households on low incomes and in insecure employment is likely to become worse over time".


"The Government accepts that the housing market is broken and if the promises to "level up" and "build back better" are to mean anything for those seeking a secure, affordable home then we must start immediately by addressing the needs of the 1.1 million households already on council housing waiting lists and the 95,000 homeless households living in temporary accommodation".


"This report highlights the benefits that building social rented housing will bring to those who simply cannot afford to buy or rent in the private housing market and the significant economic, social and health benefits that investment in a building social housing will bring to post-pandemic Britain".


Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said:


"There is a desperate need to build more social housing in this country, which should be a central part of the Government's ambition to level-up and build back better following the pandemic. Social housing gives families the security and stability of a decent home, as well as being a route to owning your own home through Right to Buy.

"Now is the time to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades. The benefits are clear - a programme of 100,000 social homes a year would shorten council housing waiting lists, reduce homelessness and cut carbon emissions, while delivering a multi-billion long-term boost to the economy.

"Councils stand ready to work with the Government to tackle our housing crisis but need the powers to build homes with the right infrastructure on this scale in the Spending Review."

Sarita-Marie Rehman Wall, NFA Chair and Tenant Board Member, said:


"The struggle to find a good home, and a home you can afford, is now very real and very tough for millions of people.


"Our national housing shortage isn't just hitting one small group. It is creating hardship for all kinds of people in all walks of life, whether we're talking about young people just heading out into adult or family life, or older people whose income drops at the very time when their need for support and the right kind of home increases.


"The housing struggle is also real for many of our key workers, who have to manage on less than generous wages, and for those who work 40 hours a week and still can't manage without help. It's real for those on precarious contracts that don't guarantee them enough hours, and those who have lost savings, jobs and homes in the pandemic.


"And even if we personally aren't among these people, this report shows how the whole country is suffering in some way from lack of investment in social housing.


"We all need these extra homes. We all need the economic boost, the new jobs and the investment in our communities that building them will bring. Everyone will benefit if we change this now."


Click here to download a copy of the report "Building post-pandemic prosperity", jointly commissioned by ARCH, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA),

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