The leaders of five key social housing sector organisations join forces to call on the government for greater investment in social housing that is needed in light of the downturn
It has become a cliché to say that the lockdown has reminded us just how important our homes are. But the reason we hear this so often is because it is true.
Having to stay at home all day, every day has been incredibly hard, even for those of us who are lucky enough to have a decent, safe, secure home. But it has been unimaginably worse for the millions of people across the country who are experiencing homelessness, or stuck in insecure privately rented homes, or living in an overcrowded or poor-quality home.
Our homes are at the heart of this crisis, and homes must also be at the heart of our recovery from it. This is why we, as organisations that work in and represent the social housing sector, have come together to launch the Homes at the Heart campaign.
Together, we are calling for the government to make a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing.
We are joined in this by our members – the people and organisations working tirelessly to provide the social housing the country needs – as well as our staff, our residents and service users, and more than 60 supporters ranging from Unison to the British Property Federation.
We all know that there are clear benefits that come from investing in new and existing social housing, and support for people to live well. Building the social housing the country needs – which we estimate would mean building 90,000 homes for social rent each year – could change the lives of millions of people.
It would help rough sleepers into a stable home of their own, help key workers to live in the communities in which they work, and help families to find a stable home in which to put down roots.
What’s more, we do not have to choose between building the social housing the country needs and supporting a strong and flourishing economy. Investing in the first is one of the most effective ways to support the second.
This investment would boost businesses, creating vital work that would help keep firms going and supporting as many as 86,000 jobs. In total, building the 90,000 social rented homes we need every year would add around £4.8bn to the economy.
The knock-on effects of this would be tremendous, and are especially important given the deep recession that could be looming just around the corner. The government is rightly concerned about this – our message is that, by investing in social housing, ministers will help the country to navigate a difficult economic period ahead.
What’s more, because every community needs more social housing, these economic and social benefits would be shared up and down the country. By investing in social housing, ministers would be helping to support local economies from Cornwall to Cumbria – a major part of their ‘levelling up’ agenda. It would also be a vital way to support black and minority ethnic communities, which have been disproportionately hit by this pandemic and the disruption it has caused.
“We do not have to choose between building the social housing the country needs and supporting a strong and flourishing economy. Investing in the first is one of the most effective ways to support the second”
Ultimately, we believe that everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable home – not just in the middle of this crisis, but always. Investing in social housing is the way to make this happen, and will have major benefits for our economy in the face of a serious recession.
Now, the social housing sector is speaking with one voice to say that this must be a priority for the government. We must put homes at the heart of the country’s recovery.
John Bibby, chief executive, Association of Retained Council Housing; Gavin Smart, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Housing; Jon Sparkes, chief executive, Crisis; Eamon McGoldrick, managing director, National Federation of ALMOs; Kate Henderson, chief executive, National Housing Federation