UK: Build more affordable housing, the charity Shelter urges FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 6 Jun 1999 11:05:12 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  BBC / UK - Wednesday, May 26, 1999


     Many more new homes are needed to meet demand, says Shelter

Increases in vacant 'social housing' in some parts of England should not be
used as an excuse to stop building new affordable homes, according to
homeless charity Shelter.

It says a report by researchers at Cambridge University and the London
School of Economics shows that current provision of affordable housing will
provide less than half the homes required to meet need.

Shelter says there has been a rise in the number of vacant social houses
and flats in some parts of the country, such as London, the North East,
Yorkshire, Humberside and Merseyside, but it says the number of affordable
homes needed far outstrips this.

The report, No Excuse Not to Build, says reducing vacancy rates in areas
where there has been an increase to the national average would provide just
10,500 new homes.

According to government statistics, some 166,430 households were accepted
as homeless by local authorities in 1998.

Call for stock increase

Previously, experts have stated that 115,000 new homes were needed each
year between 1991 and 2011 to meet demand.

Since 1991, fewer than 65,000 new affordable homes have been built and in
1997/98 only 57,000 were made available.

The report says current levels of investment will only be enough to provide
50,000 new homes a year.

Chris Holmes, director of Shelter, said: "There is a growing - and worrying
- acceptance that because we have seen an increase in empty council and
housing association homes in some areas, we have enough affordable homes to
tackle existing need and prevent increasing homelessness.

"Whatever other measures are taken to improve the use of existing stock, we
must increase the numbers of homes built for people on lower incomes."

He added that more effort needed to be made to use existing housing stock,
for example, by converting vacant shops and offices.

Shelter says current government planning policy will not address the
housing problem and it is calling for all regional guidance and structure
plans to include targets for new social housing.

Chris Holmes said: "Shelter fears that, although millions of homes will
continue to be built for the better off, those on low incomes will face
increasing risk of homelessness in the coming decades."


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