Social housing is vastly becoming a topic you’re likely seeing more of, whether it’s discussions about the growing demand for it, the standards not being met or people working to raise awareness on it through personal experiences on social media, but just how much do you know? In this blog, our goal is to enlighten you with some compelling facts and shed light on the advantages that social housing offers to the most vulnerable members of our society.
First fact: Social housing can be dated back to at least 1235
The first mentions in history of social housing dates back to mediaeval times where an almshouse in Cirencester was originally established as a means to shelter the elderly, infirm, and less fortunate individuals. It was initially associated with religious orders and later, in the 18th century shelter for those less well off was supported by generous philanthropists. Philanthropist George Peabody was among the many notable pioneers who set up the Peabody Fund in 1862 and built the first homes for the labouring poor in Commercial Street in Spitalfields in 1864. Joseph Rowntree in the 19th century, who was best known for his social reform, birthed the idea of mixed income new communities. He built New Earswick, a village in York, for people on low incomes, including staff who worked in his factory, giving them access to decent homes at affordable rents. He was committed to understanding the causes of poverty and disadvantage in order to create a better society.
The first big breakthrough to follow shortly after Rowntree was in 1919, and Christopher Addison’s Housing and Town Planning Act. Upon returning from World War I, soldiers were in need of safe and affordable housing. The Addison Act made local councils responsible for assessing housing needs and planning how to meet them. In response, councils began to build the first council housing.
After the devastation of World War II, a massive programme of council house (a type of social housing) building began. In the 1950s, councils were building an average 147,000 homes a year, and by the 1960s, a quarter of all the country’s housing was council housing.
Second fact: Almost one in seven social homes do not currently meet the national Decent Homes Standard.
This amounts to over one million social housing homes! The Decent Homes Standard is a UK government policy which sets out the minimum standards for the condition and appearance of social housing.
Out of the 525,000 houses that do not meet the Decent Homes Standard, approximately 244,000 houses (nearly half), have a category-one safety hazard, which is the highest category of risk to its residents. Local authorities are legally obliged to act if a category-one hazard is discovered, but many complaints made by tenants are disregarded.
At the National Housing Group we ensure that all our properties meet and exceed the Decent Homes Standard. We also believe in the Housing First model which is an approach that specifically focuses on supporting vulnerable people into long term housing. By working to these values we will continue to positively impact the homeless and vulnerable communities that desperately need our help.
Third fact: Over 2,300 people died while waiting for a council house in 2021.
A freedom of information act obtained by Open Democracy, revealed that 2,361 people died while on waiting lists in the UK for social housing in 2021. Another shocking fact that the study revealed was that nearly 68,000 households have had to wait more than ten years, with a few individuals waiting for several decades.
As rent prices continue to rise, and entry into the property market becomes increasingly challenging, the wait time for vulnerable households seeking social housing is expected to grow even longer. This extended waiting period can be attributed to the increasing number of people searching for social housing, which far surpasses the available housing stock.
Fourth fact: Social housing helps local schools by helping raise standardised test scores.
With rent prices fluctuating and people struggling to maintain a consistent income, this means that many families are moving about to different places where they can find affordable housing. As a result of this, sometimes children aren’t able to stay in their schools for long, or their attendance suffers as a consequence, this leads to lower scores on standardised tests.
When given a stable home and able to remain in a school, this can lead to better test scores. It also means that children are able to build long-term relationships with their peers that can contribute to building their foundation for success.
Fifth fact: 21,600 social homes were either sold or demolished in 2021/22 but we’re helping to tackle this number:
With the number of households in England waiting for a social home reaching 1.2 million (indicating a 5% increase over the past two years), it’s shocking to see that nearly 22,000 social homes were either sold or demolished in the last two years. This significant surge in demand clearly highlights the pressing need for social housing, and unfortunately, the current supply is consistently falling short of meeting these demands.
Here at The National Housing Group, since being founded in 2020 we’re proud to have been able to refurbish and provide over 170 units, and its our aim to 1,000 units by the end of 2024.
These facts just go to show that there is still a substantial amount of work to be done concerning social housing in the UK, it also highlights why the work we do is vital to so many people and families. We focus on working with vulnerable individuals who are often neglected and find it challenging to secure housing. Our commitment to providing permanent homes for individuals without a social network remains steadfast, as it significantly enhances their quality of life and contributes to improved mental and physical well-being.