3m new social houses needed by 2040 - report

The results of a year-long cross-party housing commission report have suggested that more than 3 million new social houses need to be built in the next 20 years - a significant increase on the current plan of just 6,000 social homes every year.

Former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi and former labour leader Ed Miliband have led the commission along with Conservative treasury minister Lord Jim O’Neill. The commission was set up in the wake of the Grenfell disaster by housing charity Shelter and is designed to address concerns surrounding overcrowding and regulation of council-owned homes.

The report describes public housing as a safety net and a stepping stone to home ownership (a government priority) and as being on par with health and education. It states that council houses and social housing should be available to those in private rent as well as those saving to buy and in greatest need. It estimates that around 1.3 million people live in overcrowded or dangerous properties or suffer homelessness or disability, but a further 1 million young people and 700,000 older people in private rented homes also need help.

The report calls for Ofsted-style regulators to inspect social homes, tenant influence on what happens to their home and the replacement of any social housing that is sold off. They also say that social housing should be mixed with private houses and with the same design.

The provision of these additional social houses has been costed at around £225bn, according to the report, but would save £21bn in housing benefits annually and the boost to the construction industry could mean it pays for itself in just 40 years.

Miliband has stated that the government needs to act now as the building of social homes is known to build strong communities and the housing market is broken and needs fixing. Warsi agrees and states that political failure has led to the collapse of social mobility and half of all young people cannot afford to buy.

The government has pointed out that they have already set aside £9bn for their affordable homes programme which plans to deliver 250,000 new homes by 2022, including social housing.

Affordable housing has been shown in the report to be 30% more expensive than social housing and out of reach for most who are eligible.