A new report by the Centre
for Social Justice (CSJ) highlights the result of a
nationally representative poll of 5,000 English adults which
revealed that "New Conservatives" - those whose votes underpinned
Boris Johnson's electoral majority in 2019 and are expected to be a
key determinant of the next election - is highly supportive of
government intervention in low-cost rented housebuilding with
two-thirds of New Conservative voters (67 per cent) saying that
social housing should be made a government priority.
The foreword to the CSJ's report is written by former Prime
Minister Theresa May in which she calls on Boris Johnson's
government to build social homes by invoking the Conservative's
historical affiliation with municipal housing from Winston
Churchill through to Margaret Thatcher.
Although the Conservative Party is now seen as the party of
homeownership but, from the 1940s-70s, they were just as sold on
the importance of seeing housing as infrastructure and building
council homes accordingly.
The research also found that:
- a quarter of the English population said they found it either
fairly or very difficult to pay their housing costs, this rising to
43 per cent of private renters;
- 60 per cent said they think the housing crisis has worsened
'significantly' due to the pandemic;
- less than one in four people (24 per cent) believe the
Government's definition of affordable housing is truly affordable
to local people;
- just under two thirds (63 per cent) believe the Government
needs to supply low-cost homes to rent to end the housing
- 55 per cent said building social housing should be a priority
of the Government;
- 58 per cent said building more low-cost homes to rent would
'level up' the country;
- 55 per cent of people said 'affordability' should be the
primary aim of housing policy, while 11 percent said 'eventual
- across all segments uncovered in the analysis, agreement
outweighs disagreement that 'a robust social housing scheme
reduces the strain on health and social services' - with strong
majority support in most segments.
In short, the research suggests that there is no simple
"left-right" divide in England on what is known today as 'social
housing', following the seismic realignments in political
affiliation seen in recent years.
The report suggests this presents a major opportunity for the
Government to reset the agenda on truly affordable housing and
address the social, economic and fiscal problems associated with
the hidden housing crisis - with considerable public
Given the scale of disillusionment over current 'affordable
housing' policy also revealed in the polling, the CSJ report
recommend the Government initiates a process of rapid evidence
gathering to reshape social and affordable housing policy in the
2020s, with the publication of the forthcoming Levelling Up White
A copy of the full report entitled "Exposing the hidden housing
crisis: Public attitudes to 'affordable housing' and housing
policy" is available on the CSJ website.
The findings of this report underpin the case for investment in
social housing made in the recent report "Building post-pandemic prosperity"
commissioned by ARCH, the Local Government Association and the
National Federation of Housing.