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Build, build, build social housing

This third briefing in JRF's economic discussion series - Shaping a recovery that reduces poverty - explains why building social housing now is vital to stimulate our economy and unlock people from poverty and homelessness

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By ensuring we invest in a balance of tenures (social rent, affordable ownership and intermediate rent), rather than purely focus on homeownership, we can help to tackle two challenges: the current economic downturn, and the unaffordability and unsuitability of the current housing market for low-income households.


To successfully support recovery through the housing sector, and address unaffordability and housing unsuitability for low-income households, the Government must:

  1. Build 145,000 social homes a year for the next five years, by increasing the funding for the Affordable Homes Programme by a total of £90 billion. This would include the following tenure breakdown: 90,000 for social rent, 30,000 for intermediate rent, and 25,000 for shared ownership.
  2. Work with local authorities to launch a council housing stimulus package to ensure that places can deliver on their house building ambitions. Government should work with local authorities and their representative bodies to establish this package but might consider:
  • Reforming Right to Buy to more effectively direct funds to house building programmes.
  • Ensuring Section 106 (or its replacement through planning reform) delivers much-needed social rent homes in a housing market downturn by issuing guidance to local authorities on how to determine viability in the event of falling land prices and pausing the roll out of First Homes to ensure rented homes are prioritised.
  • Investing in a fund to support local authorities procure professional skills to support their house building programmes.
Smiling woman drinking a cup of tea in a kitchen.

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