May has said she will fix the housing crisis – but ‘dismal’ new figures show nothing of the sort

a social housing tower block
Sam Woolfe

Last year, Theresa May made a personal promise to fix the country’s housing crisis. The UK has a serious shortage of affordable homes. But new figures show that the government has done little to help the situation. In fact, its policies are making the situation worse.

‘Dismal’ figures

Government figures show that, in the last year, 11,649 social homes were sold off, yet only 4,566 were built. This means that, for every three social homes that disappear, only one is replaced. Greg Beales, campaigns director for housing charity Shelter, said:

These dismal figures show that at a time when more families than ever need affordable homes, their chances of getting one are being wrenched away.

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Social housing must play a critical role in fixing the housing crisis in the future, but not if housing that’s sold off is not replaced, depleting what’s available for families who need urgent help.

It is absolutely vital that any properties sold are replaced on a like-for-like basis. Without this guarantee, every home lost is another dent in our dwindling supply of the genuinely affordable homes people are crying out for.

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This trend has actually been going on for years now.

‘Right to Buy’ scheme

Senior Conservative MPs have rejected the prime minister’s own plans to ‘rewrite planning laws’. Jonathan Manns, director of planning at real estate consultancy Colliers International, argues that the government can’t solve the affordable housing crisis unless it scraps the Right to Buy scheme.

The scheme was meant to help low-income families find affordable housing. But 40% of homes sold under the scheme are now controlled by private landlords, leading to higher rent prices. As the Independent reported, the Right to Buy policy is a “leading cause of the fall in the number of low-cost homes”.

When the government expanded the Right to Buy scheme in 2011, it pledged to build one social home for every one that was sold off. But this has not happened. Clearly, a lot more needs to be done to ensure that there is enough affordable housing in the country. And scrapping the Right to Buy scheme could be an important first step in the right direction.

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