England needs to build 3m new social homes


The Government must launch the biggest social house building drive in its history to save people from homelessness or a life trapped in the private rented sector, a cross-party commission has said.

The housing charity Shelter brought together 16 independent commissioners, hundreds of social tenants a range of housing experts and 31,000 members of the public to put together the scale of the crisis and make a series of recommendations.

The Housing Crisis

Across England currently 280,000 people are homeless, and many more are living in dangerous or precarious situations.

Between the end of the Second World War and 1990, successive Governments built around 126,000 social homes every year. Last year only 6,463 were built.

This has led to a boom in the private rented sector. However this has not been without problems. Private renters on lower incomes spend an average of 67% of their earnings on rent.

The high cost of private rents mean that half of young people have no chance of every buying a homes.

Additionally, if private renters make a formal complaint, research shows there is a 50:50 chance they’ll be handed an eviction notice within six months.

The housing crisis extends beyond just the young. By 2040, as many as one-third of 60 year olds could be renting privately, facing unaffordable rent increases or eviction at any point.


The Commissions’ prime recommendation is to invest in a 20 year building programme to deliver 3.1 million more social homes.

They also recommend offering social homes to million who fail to qualify under the current system, including:

  • 1.27 million homes for people who are homeless, ill or disabled and living in poor conditions
  • 1.17 million homes for ‘trapped renters’ – younger families who can’t afford to buy, and face a lifetime of renting privately otherwise
  • 690,000 homes for older private renters

In addition to these proposals, the Commission also suggests introducing a new Ofsted-style consumer regulator to protect renters, as well as introducing a new national tenants’ voice organisation and making reforms to the private rented sector.

Dawn Jackson, Head of Grants at Turn2us, said:

“We fully support the recommendations made by the Shelter Commission. Almost 70% of the people who come to us for help are renters; we see the struggle caused by the housing crisis every day.

“Social mobility has indeed been decimated by this crisis; we are going to see generations of young people never owning their own home if we don’t take this report on board.

“Only by building more social homes can we solve this problem, end the huge waiting list for housing and stop the explosion of expensive private renting.”