Nearly three quarters of Conservative voters want the UK to build more social housing

Remember Cllr. Dan Ledger’s article on the problems of trying to increase the affordable and social housing stock given that every time a tenant  exercises their “Right to Buy” the council is prohibited from reinvesting all of the receipts to replace the loss. In fact the Tories restricted the reinvestment rules again in 2021. He pointed out that 70 RTB requests to EDDC were made in 2022. – Owl

Vicky Spratt inews.co.uk

A significant majority of Conservative voters think more social housing should be built in the UK, according to exclusive YouGov polling carried out for i.

Of 2,112 adults surveyed across Britain, a total of 74 per cent of Brits agreed that more social housing was needed. 15 per cent said that they did not think more social housing was needed and 11 per cent said they did not know.

Some 71 per cent of people who voted Conservative in the 2019 general election said they agreed that there needed to be more social housing, compared to 82 per cent of people who voted Labour in the same election.

An overwhelming majority of Brits – 82 per cent – also agreed that it was “difficult” for young people in the UK to access adequate housing. Around 7 per cent said they thought it was “easy” and 10 per cent said they did not know.

Of those who voted Conservative in the 2019 general election, the overwhelming majority – 80 per cent – thought it was difficult for young people to access adequate housing. This compared to 88 per cent who voted Labour.

The survey was conducted online between April 3 and 4 2023 and the results were weighted by factors such as age, gender, region, social class, political attention, past vote in the 2019 election, past vote in the 2016 EU referendum, and education level to give a representative sample of all adults over the age of 18 in Britain.

Britain currently faces a severe social housing shortage.

Last year the House of Lords Built Environment Committee concluded that there was a “serious shortage” of social housing and argued that many renters who would once have lived in secure and affordable social homes were now living in “expensive private rented accommodation” with their housing costs subsidised by housing benefit.

The housing benefit bill is now £23.4bn a year, more than the total spend for most government departments.

Exclusive YouGov polling for i has also revealed that most renters have experienced a sharp rent increase in the past year because of their landlord putting up their rent.

However, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which is how housing benefit is calculated remains frozen at 2019/20 levels, leaving low-income renters with a shortfall between the state support available to them and the real cost of rent.

The New Economics Foundation – a left-leaning think-tank which promotes social, economic and environmental justice – has done some research and found that the Government is set to spend five times more (£58.2bn) on paying private landlords’ rent via housing benefits than on its entire affordable housebuilding programme (£11.5bn for the Affordable Homes Programme) over the next four years.

Speaking about i’s polling Matt Downie, chief executive at the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “This poll highlights how people up and down the country understand the crucial need to address the chronic lack of social housing. The demand for social housing has outstripped supply for years and we are still yet to see any real commitment from the UK Government on social house building.

“With the increasing cost of living pressures and rents at their highest rate in over 16 years, the need for action is desperate. Until we build the genuinely affordable homes we need, we will continue to see people trapped without a home, and hundreds of thousands more on the brink of homelessness.”

According to the homelessness charity Shelter there are now 1.4 million fewer households living in social housing than there were in 1980.

There is also currently a social housing waiting list of over a million households across England, meaning that a growing number of homeless families with children have been placed in inappropriate temporary accommodation in recent years. This includes converted office blocks which i exposed in an investigation earlier this year and planning experts argue are putting residents’ health at risk.

A significant majority of Brits – 78 per cent – also said that access to adequate housing should be a human right.

11% said access to adequate housing should not be a human right and 11% said they did not know.

In response to these figures, the Labour MP Lisa Nandy, Shadow Levelling Up & Housing Secretary, told i: “Safe and secure housing is a fundamental human right, but the Tories have turned housing into a racket. A decade of drift and decay has left us with a chronic lack of social housing and over a million families languishing on waiting lists.

“That’s why the next Labour government will build more affordable and social homes, restore social housing to the second largest form of tenure, and raise standards. Everyone deserves a warm, safe place to call home and reform of our broken housing system to deliver that is long overdue.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) spokesperson said:

“We are committed to building more social homes and are investing £11.5bn through our Affordable Homes Programme to deliver tens of thousands of homes for rent and sale right across the country.

“We’ve also taken steps to increase the amount of money councils can keep when they sell social homes. Over £4.1 billion of Right to Buy sales has been reinvested in new affordable housing by councils since 2012.”