Shelter chief calls for ‘massive resurgence’ in social housing

The chief executive of Shelter has called for a ‘massive resurgence’ in social housing to help unite the country and heal Brexit divisions.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) Total Housing 2019 conference in Brighton, Polly Neate warned social housing is in ‘danger of extreme marginalisation, followed by extinction’.

‘We need is a long-term commitment to a massive resurgence in social housing,’ she told delegates.

‘Social housing is not the be-all-and-end-all, but I would argue it is the beginning of the beginning of the be-all-and-end-all.’

In particular, the Shelter chief executive argued that social housing is important because providing safe homes is a ‘fundamental human need’.

‘A safe home is a right and there are six million people in this country, for whom that right is either denied or fundamentally threatened,’ she added. 

‘Many of those will not have this right met without social housing.’

‘We are living in a desperately-divided country and one of the starkest expressions of that division is the homes are live in.

‘I’m talking about people living in slum conditions, people renting privately who know they are on a tightrope or older people, trapped in private rented homes that will never provide the security and adaptability we will need as we grow old.

‘Irrespective of Brexit, a serious and long-term commitment to social housing can unite us,’ added Ms Neate.

’83% of Remain voters and 77% of Leave voters want more social housing to be built. It’s the top priority for government action on both sides of the Brexit divide. Now more than ever, we need to focus on what can unite the country, rather than what divides us.’

The CIH chief executive, Terrie Alafat also spoke at the Total Housing 2019 event.

‘We know that successful housing policies are key to delivering much more fundamental objectives that this country has,’ she told the conference.

‘Social housing is now the smallest major tenure and the sector continues to shrink. It’s not a very pretty picture,’ she added.

‘If we look at ourselves in this country, we make minimal investment in existing stock and in regeneration and that has tremendous implications.’

‘There has been change in government rhetoric. We are now seen as part of the solution, and not part of the problem. We had a social housing green paper, which I think many of us welcomed. This is positive, but progress is precarious and the future is uncertain. We have to keep up the pressure.’

She added the sector should continue to press ministers to make sure social housing is at the centre of the plan to solve the housing crisis.

‘Our social housing work last year said social housing should be seen as a public good, equivalent to the NHS or universal free education, and it should be available to a wider group of people.’


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top