Nearly five million households will live in unaffordable homes by 2030

11 September 2023

One in every five households in England (4.8m)[i] will be forced to spend more than a third of their income on housing by the end of the next parliament unless politicians commit to a long-term plan to fix the housing crisis, according to a new report by Pragmatix Advisory on behalf of the National Housing Federation (NHF).

The wide-ranging report looks at how England’s housing crisis will unfold in the coming years without urgent action from government. Rising mortgage rates and private rents, coupled with a chronic shortage of social housing, will mean a sharp rise in the number of homeowners and private renters struggling to meet their housing costs, heaping further pressure on budgets already stretched by the rising cost of living.

The report finds that by 2030, compared to the most recent official figures from 2020/21:

  • An extra 1.7 million households will be living in unaffordable homes - an increase of more than a third (35%). This includes:
  • 600,000 additional households living in unaffordable private rented homes, taking the total to 2.2 million.
  • 1 million additional homeowners facing unaffordable mortgage costs, taking the total to 1.9 million - more than double current levels.
  • 1.5 million families will be on the waiting list for social housing, a rise of 350,000 or almost a third (32%).
  • 150,000 children will be homeless and living in emergency accommodation like B&Bs and hostels by 2030 – an increase of 20,000. This is the equivalent of six children in every school in England. [ii]

The consequences will be most severe for those on low incomes who are already struggling to afford private rents and cannot access social housing. Future rent rises will force more of these families into overcrowded conditions, increase levels of poverty and debt, and put many at risk of homelessness. Overcrowding and homelessness among children in England is already at record levels: earlier this year NHF research revealed more than 310,000 children are sharing a bed with their parents or siblings; and the number of homeless children stuck in temporary accommodation reached 130,000 this year, the highest number since records began.

Previous action by successive governments has focused on short term and piecemeal policy decisions around housing, which has seen the situation worsen for many. For example, the decision to cut funding for affordable housing by 63% in 2010 led to an 80% fall in the number of new social homes being built, forcing many low-income families into unaffordable and insecure privately rented homes. NHF research from 2019 revealed that nearly half of children in private rented homes are living in poverty[iii].

The National Housing Federation is calling for a strategic, long-term plan to fix our broken housing system, which can only be achieved through a commitment to drastically increase the number of social homes beginning in the next Parliament. A long-term plan must:

  • Be based on ambitious and measurable outcomes for people in need of housing
  • Be properly funded to meet the target of building 90,000 social rented homes each year for the next decade
  • Include funding for regeneration of existing homes to bring them to a decent standard and make them energy efficient.

A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the NHF showed there is strong public support for building social housing. It found that voters from all the main political parties think the government should prioritise building social housing above any other type of home.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:

“There is no more time to lose. For decades, the number of families who can’t access a safe, secure home has been rising. Without urgent action from government, by the end of the next parliament many more families will be left living in unsuitable and unaffordable housing, affecting their health, economic security and life chances.  Many at the sharpest end of the crisis are forced to share beds or live in shared emergency accommodation such as B&Bs or hotels whilst struggling to pay for food and other essentials.

“Today’s report shows that short-term, piecemeal decisions on housing have created an emergency that will continue escalating at a rapid rate.  But this is a crisis that can be solved. By committing to a long-term plan for housing that is properly funded and based on ambitious, measurable outcomes, politicians of all parties could begin to turn the tide and create real change for people in need of affordable housing.”

[i] Based on English Housing Survey figures showing 24.2m households in England. English Housing Survey AT1_1,

[ii] Based on latest Department for Education figures showing 24,442 schools in England:


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