Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, Shelter appointed a
commission of 16 people, to lead a national conversation about the
future of social housing in England in the twenty first
The cross-party group of commissioners represented a diverse
range of political views and life experiences, from former
government ministers to residents, and was chaired by the Reverend
Mike Long, from the Grenfell community.
They spent a year listening to the views of hundreds of social
tenants, 31,000 members of the public and a range of housing
experts. The resulting report sets out a bold, ambitious vision for
what social housing should be and who should have the opportunity
to live in it.
For generations, social housing played a vital role
in meeting the housing needs of ordinary people, giving
millions the quality and dignity of life that insecure
and unaffordable private renting could not. The vision of
the Commission's report aims to recapture this purpose, rather than
just have social housing as "an ambulance service" for the most
needy. It seeks to create a modern, greatly expanded social housing
sector which will provide stable, affordable homes to millions of
struggling families, key workers and older renters who are being
failed by the current system.
Chapter 5 of the report sets out a new vision for social
'A new vision for social housing must embrace its potential to
provide homes for people from all walks of life. It should provide
both security for those in need and a step up for young families
trying to get on and save for their future. We envisage a new
generation of social housing, providing desirable homes for nurses,
mechanics, and others who are struggling in the private rented
sector - as well as for those who are homeless, older, or unable to
The commissioners are recommending that the government invests
in a major 20-year social housebuilding programme, recommending the
building of 3.1 million new social homes over the next 20 years; an
average of 155,000 a year.
They call on all political parties to rediscover publicly built
housing as a key pillar of national infrastructure. The report uses
analysis from Capital Economics to make a compelling case for the
economic benefits of such an investment which estimates the
programme would cost £10.7 billion a year. However, two-thirds of
this would be quickly recouped through reductions in housing
benefit spending, and increased tax revenues - with the
programme paying for itself after 39 years. The Commissioners argue
that even the initial outlay represents a fraction of the
government's overall capital expenditure budget and is far less
than is spent on other infrastructure projects like HS2.
The report also includes ideas for making this new social sector
better, as well as bigger, with recommendations to improve
standards and strengthen the voice of tenants.
Shelter says that the report, launched on 8 January, marks not
the end of a process, but the beginning of a new chapter in
Shelter's work to solve the housing crisis and states that the
recommendations and vision outlined in the report will form the
foundation of Shelter's future policy work and campaigning on
social housing over the next few years, as the organisation seeks
to get all parties to commit to the ideas set out in the report by
2022 at the latest.
Read the full report "Building for our future - a
vision for social housing"