UK faces shortfall of a million homes

21 Mar 02
More than a million extra homes must be built in the next 20 years if Britain is to avoid a major shortage of affordable housing, according to a report published this week.

22 March 2002

In England alone, warns the study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the demand for extra homes is estimated at 210,000 properties per year. Yet private housebuilders and social housing providers are only producing 154,000 homes annually.

By 2022, this will add up to a shortfall of 1.1 million homes, with the majority of excess demand expected in London and the Southeast. Housing shortages, says the report, will particularly affect poor families who cannot afford to buy and have no access to oversubscribed rented accommodation provided by local authorities and housing associations.

Land for housing, published by the foundation on March 19 to mark its centenary, warns that unless action is taken, areas of high housing demand will see increased homelessness and crises in public services as nurses, teachers and other workers are increasingly priced out of the market.

Many existing properties are in a poor condition, with about 20% of housing stock built before 1919. Homes are expected to last twice as long in Britain as in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.

Pointing to the £37m backlog of repairs, the report calls on the government to 'bite the bullet' on stock replacement. 'There will come a time when it is no longer possible to justify the environmental and social costs of maintaining inadequate housing and neighbourhoods.'

Lord Best, director of the foundation, said that some extra homes would need to be built on greenfield sites. 'We have got to be honest and accept that not all of the necessary housing can be built on recycled land,' he said.


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