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Shelter slams PRS and calls for social housing drive

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Homeless charity Shelter has renewed its attack on the private rented sector, saying 3m private renters live in poor conditions, ‘with electrical hazards, pests or damp-related issues in their homes’. It also claims that 3.6m say they pay too much for the quality of home they have.

The comments, based on a survey Shelter commissioned from YouGov, came as the charity launched its Building Our Way Out report, calling for increased spending on social housing.

The Coronavirus Crisis has made matters worse for private renters, according to Shelter. Only half of those surveyed said their homes made them feel safe during the pandemic. 

‘According to YouGov polling carried out for the report, 25 per cent of private renting adults – equivalent to 2.1m people – said their housing situation made lockdown harder to cope with. Private tenants are in fact twice as likely to have struggled than tenants in secure social homes’.

Shelter said existing provision for delivering new social homes is woefully inadequate. There is currently only enough funding set aside to provide one social home for every 96 households on the waiting list. And with a swelling housing benefit bill forecast to hit £24bn per year by 2024/25 – excluding the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic – it is urging the Chancellor create a rescue package of investment in social housebuilding. 

‘Our homes are our first line of defence in this pandemic, but millions have spent months trapped in private rentals they do not trust to keep them safe’, said Shelter chief executive Polly Neate.

‘After decades of decline, a dire lack of social homes means too many people, pay too much for cramped and poor-quality housing. Or worse yet, they find themselves with nowhere to live. With the stakes so high, the case for building decent social homes is clear’.

Shelter’s report calls for a targeted rescue package of £12.2bn over the next two years to fund a total of 50,000 new social homes, out of a total of 145,000 new affordable homes.

‘Before a thundercloud of homelessness breaks over us, the Chancellor needs to be as swift and bold on housing as we’ve seen him be on jobs. By turbocharging investment in social housing today, we can build ourselves out of this pandemic and lay the foundations of a better future’.