More than 165k social homes lost in six years, says CIH

7 Feb 19

The number of social rent homes in England has plummeted by 165,697 in just six years, analysis by a trade body has found.              

As many as 199,000 of social rent homes will have been lost between 2012 and 2020, according to analysis of government data by the Chartered Institute of Housing released yesterday.

The housing trade body estimated 140,828 council homes and 57,869 housing association properties will be lost by 2020.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of CIH, said: “For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent.

“It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.”

The loss was mainly due to homes sold through right to buy but also demolitions and properties being converted to ‘affordable rent’, the CIH said. 

Alafat added: “Government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market.”

The CIH analysis found 79% of the central housing budget up to 2020-21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing.

“Rebalancing this budget could make a big difference – it is vital that the government supports councils and housing associations to build more homes for social rent,” Alafat said.

She added that CIH supports the principle of helping tenants move into home ownership but said “it cannot be at the expense of other people in need”.

Since 2010 funding for social rent, which tends to be around 30-40% cheaper than market rent, has been cut and funding has instead gone towards homes for ‘affordable rent’, which can be up to 80% of market rents.

CIH said the projection of 199,000 homes is lower than previous estimates because the government has made several “positive announcements” including funding for housing associations, lifting the HRA borrowing cap and abandoning plans to force councils to sell their most valuable empty homes to pay for an extension of right to buy. 

Minister for housing Kit Malthouse said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for this government – evidenced by the fact we have delivered over 400,000 affordable homes since 2010.

“And by abolishing the borrowing cap, we’re also giving councils extra freedom to build the social homes their communities need and expect.”

A study from last week found record levels of overcrowding in the social housing sector.  

Government data also recently showed a huge rise in the number of rough sleepers in England.

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