- May 24, 2021
- Posted by: R
- Category: CT Blog
In this guest blog, Ninesh Muthiah, CEO at Home Connections details the importance of social housing professionals making full use of the country’s social housing stock to respond to the growing demand for affordable housing.
With homelessness likely to rise due to a combination of factors – ranging from pandemic-related job losses to a possible ending of the ban on evictions – it is vital that social housing professionals come together to make full use of the country’s social housing stock.
Since founding the national mobility scheme Homefinder UK in 2013, I am acutely aware of how the shortage of affordable homes across the country impacts thousands of families. Exhausted young families cramped into 1- and 2-bed temporary accommodation, young men and women desperate to end the instability of sofa surfing and all its vulnerabilities, those with no other option but to resort to rough sleeping.
People approach Homefinder UK as their last hope for rehousing, having been told by their local council that the wait for social housing is ten years or more. The Government’s social housing white paper has once again brought this injustice to light.
The landscape of social housing
The social housing white paper represents a step forward to improve the relationship between social landlords and tenants. However, it is also a missed opportunity to address the real problem: the lack of a robust social housing building programme delivering hundreds of thousands of units per year.
The number of social homes in England has declined in the past few decades, whilst demand for affordable housing has only increased.
In September 2020, the Government announced an £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme pledging to deliver up to 180,000 new homes across the country, from 2021 to 2026, if economic conditions allow.
Unfortunately, not enough. A report published by the National Housing Federation last year found that there are nearly 3.8 million in England with a social housing need.
London councils are particularly strained, with the capital accounting for around two-thirds of homelessness in England. A spokesperson for the mayor stated that “City Hall research found that London needs £4.9bn every year to deliver the homes the capital requires, but instead we have been allocated just over £4bn for five years.”
It is doubly surprising that in a landscape like this, there are still vacant social housing stock in parts of the country. Ours is the only public sector national housing mobility schemes in operation in the UK open to tenants and homeless applicants alike – and those escaping domestic abuse.
Offering housing applicants an alternative
Currently, vulnerable housing applicants face a wide range of challenges, including: housing stability, geographical restrictions represented by the need for local connections, and the lack of affordability.
Home connections recent white paper revealed that people are willing to move out of their local area and restart their life in another part of the country, if they feel empowered and supported when making that choice.
One mover through our national mobility scheme said of the move: “The security we have is worth more than words can express.”
Another stated: “After seven years in temporary accommodation, our council was about to discharge us into the Private Rented Sector as there was no housing available, so I’m so glad to have finally found my forever home through Homefinder UK! They have been a lifeline for us. I will forever be grateful!”
While we undoubtedly need more affordable housing across the UK, national and local governments must consider other avenues to the exhaustive wait for social housing in high-demand areas. It starts by using the tools available right now. By better use of the housing stock availability, we can link supply and demand, providing not just a roof, but a fresh start for those in housing need.
For comments or feedback, contact Greg Campbell, Partner, at Campbell Tickell on: firstname.lastname@example.org