The government's house-building targets are too low
On the same day that Prime Minister Theresa May postponed the Parliamentary vote on her rapidly sinking Brexit deal, a new report revealing the UK’s deepening housing crisis was published.
This report is just the latest in a series of wake-up calls to a Brexit-fixated government. Rising poverty, flat-lining life expectancy, and escalating food-bank usage, to take just three, all stem from eight years of austerity policies that have ripped the UK’s social fabric asunder. And, of course, a UK housing crisis that just seems to get worse and worse.
The report, written by Professor Glen Bramley for Crisis UK and the National Housing Federation, calculates the mounting scale of homelessness and housing need.
According to Bramley, an expert in calculating housing requirements, there is now a backlog of housing need, built up over the last couple of decades, of 4.75m households across Great Britain.
This equates to 1 in 14 of all British households requiring improved or more affordable housing, as well as those who don’t have a home at all.
Some 3.66m households are currently concealed and/or overcrowded households, or others with serious affordability or physical health problems, and people living in unsuitable housing.
A further 333,000 households suffer core or wider homelessness. As the report points out, core homeless include rough sleepers, those sleeping in cars, tents, public transport, squatting, hostel residents, people placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation (including bed and breakfast and nightly paid hotels), night and winter shelters, and sofa surfers.
The report illustrates that an effective house-building programme is required to confront existing and backlog housing needs, alongside expected future needs.
Over 15 years, Bramley estimates that 380,000 new homes will need to be built each year. This is massively above previous estimates, and is an additional 80,000 homes on top of the government’s target of 300,000, or 27% more homes required annually.
In terms of what is currently being built, the report envisages a doubling of annual housing output. This doesn’t seem realistic for a government mired in a crisis of its own making, and one that clearly can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
Kevin Gulliver – – is Director of Birmingham-based research charity the Human City Institute, is former Chair of the Centre for Community Research, and part of the SHOUT save social housing campaign, but writes in a personal capacity. His interests are social and economic policy, especially relating to housing, health, wellbeing, communities, deprivation and disadvantage, and inequalities.
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