Documents to download

Housing policy is a devolved matter and so this briefing focuses on England. The number of socially rented houses in England has been falling consistently since the 1980s; between 1981 to 2016 social housing stock has decreased by 25%. In 2016 17% of houses were socially rented compared to 30% in 1981. Some commentators have put this decrease down to aspects of government housing policy. For example, right to buy, a policy introduced in 1980, allowed local authority tenants to purchase their council houses at a reduced rate, which has contributed to reducing social housing stock numbers. A commitment to replace a proportion of the properties sold under the scheme was introduced in 2011, although the latest statistics suggest that these obligations are not being met. Over the same period, central government funding for building new homes for social rent was also reduced, replaced in part by funding for construction of homes for affordable rent, with rents up to 80 percent of market rates.

It has been argued that these housing trends have had implications for several housing-related issues. Statistics show that private renters spend a higher proportion of their income on rent than social renters. Although, in general, rents have risen roughly in proportion to income, renters in London, 25 to 34-year olds and those on low incomes are facing increasing housing burdens. Real-term spending on housing benefit has also increased substantially over the past thirty years, with some attributing this to the lack of investment in social housing. In addition, Crisis has argued that insecure housing in the private sector has also led to increased rates of statutory homelessness, and that the lack of available social homes has posed additional challenges for local authorities when trying to house those which it owes a duty of prevention or relief.

In 2017, the Government committed to working with local councils to build more social homes, and its 2018 green paper outlined its strategy for achieving this. However, its proposals have been criticised by housing groups and homeless charities for being unambitious and failing to meet demand for social housing. In addition, Labour denounced the plan saying that it did not include any government investment for new homes.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Fire safety regulations: Reform for furniture and buildings in England

    The government has proposed changes to how fire safety standards for furniture and furnishings are regulated in England. Scientists and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have raised concerns that current regulations incentivise the use of flame-retardant chemicals, which have environmental and health impacts. The regulatory framework for fire safety in buildings in England has also been reformed following the Grenfell Tower fire and the Building Safety Act 2022.

    Fire safety regulations: Reform for furniture and buildings in England
  • King’s Speech 2023: Levelling up, housing and communities

    The King’s Speech is set to take place on 7 November 2023. This briefing considers the possible measures the government may announce relating to levelling up, housing and communities. This includes introducing legislation to reform the leasehold system. In addition, carry-over motions agreed in the previous parliamentary session will see the continuation of the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, Holocaust Memorial Bill and Renters (Reform) Bill.

    King’s Speech 2023: Levelling up, housing and communities
  • Reforming adult social care: House of Lords committee report

    Government plans for adult social care have undergone several changes in the last decade. In December 2022, the House of Lords Adult Social Care Committee published a report examining the adult social care system and making recommendations to make it a “progressive, visible, fairer and kinder system”. In July 2023, the government published a response. It pointed to commitments in its April 2023 white paper, including reform of the adult social care workforce, housing for people who required care and tackling delayed discharge and unnecessary admissions to hospitals.

    Reforming adult social care: House of Lords committee report