More social homes needed, say Londoners

New poll suggests 61% of residents in the capital think the government is not building enough social housing, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Dujardin Mews, Ponders End
Dujardin Mews, Ponders End

Roughly three in five Londoners believe the housing crisis has got worse since the last general election, a new poll has revealed.

The YouGov survey has revealed 62% of people in the capital believe the shortage of available housing stock has become worse since 2019’s election, while 61% think the government is not building enough social housing.

The poll, commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF), also found that of Londoners who have searched for a home since the election, around seven in ten (67%) said they had struggled to find a suitable and affordable property.

The government defended its record, pointing out that in the last year, housebuilding was at its third highest rate for thirty years. The number of new homes started in England increased by 16% last year, compared to pre-pandemic levels, it said.

Looking across the whole of Britain, the poll also showed that a majority (52%) of Conservative voters believe not enough social housing is being built. Across all party loyalties, the figure was 58%.

Almost half of Tory voters (48%) across Britain meanwhile think the government should prioritise building social housing over homes for sale (28%) or private rent (8%). Among all voters, 53% believe social housing should be prioritised over other types.

Kate Henderson, NHF chief executive said: “There is a clear consensus amongst voters from all parties and people across all ages and parts of the country, not only that we need to build more social housing, but that this should take precedence over building any other types of home.

“There is also indisputable evidence that housing policies over the last few decades, particularly those focused on home ownership, have widened inequality, increased government spending and made the housing crisis worse.

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“How can it be that we have a national strategy for space exploration, but no strategy for homes back here on earth?

“With such strong public support for and proof of the need for more social housing, it’s time for politicians to catch-up and make meaningful commitments that will solve the housing crisis and ensure everyone has access to a safe secure and affordable home.

“We urgently need a long term plan aimed at drastically increasing the number of affordable and crucially social homes built over the next decade.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson responded: “The government is considering a number of measures to improve availability of social housing.

“We are committed to delivering 300,000 new homes per year and are investing £11.5billion to build the affordable, quality homes this country needs.

“Since 2010, we have delivered over 632,000 new affordable homes, including more than 441,612 affordable homes for rent, of which over 162,800 homes are for social rent.”

In London, housebuilding is managed at a strategic level by the mayor, with individual projects signed off by borough councils.

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said: “The mayor is delivering a new era of homebuilding in the capital, surpassing the ambitious government target of starting 116,000 affordable homes for Londoners between 2015/16 and 2022/23 and starting 23,000 City-Hall funded council homes since 2018.

“This is the highest number since the 1970s, and a key part of his plans to build a better, fairer London for everyone.

“High-quality council homes are a direct way of addressing our city’s inequalities and leaving a legacy to future generations.

“There has been huge progress in recent years, but the mayor is clear that we can do more. He has laid the foundations for a new renaissance in council homebuilding to be at the heart of our post-Covid recovery – it is now up to ministers to show the same scale of ambition as London, by backing a new funding programme exclusively for council homes.”

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