New homeless households outnumber new social homes by six to one

30 November 2023

National Housing Federation analysis of the latest affordable housing figures[i] and homelessness statistics[ii], has found that for every new social home built in England last year (2022/23), six households were accepted as homeless by their local council.

Government figures show that 52,800 households were accepted by their local council as homeless last year (2022/23) including 30,300 families with children – this equates to 145 households and 88 families every day.[iii] In comparison, only 8,386 new social rented homes were built in the same period – equivalent to just 23 per day. There was a net total of 9,561 additional social rent homes last year, including acquisitions, a figure that has fallen by a staggering 76% since 2010.[iv] Social rented homes are typically 50% of market rents and the only homes affordable to homeless families.

To prevent rough sleeping, where possible homeless people and families are housed by the council in emergency accommodation, including hostels with shared facilities and bed and breakfasts. Government figures released today reveal there are now 105,750 households living in temporary accommodation, including 138,930 children. These levels are the highest since records began.[v]

As a result of rising homelessness, largely caused by the severe shortage of social homes, government spending on emergency accommodation and homelessness prevention has drastically increased. English councils spent a record £1.74bn on temporary accommodation between 2022/23 which represented 9% of their annual budget.[vi] Total spending on temporary accommodation has increased by 62% in the last five years alone.[vii] In addition, the shortage of social homes means more and more families on low incomes are forced to live in expensive and insecure private rented homes, leading to a sharp rise in government spending on housing benefit. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), the housing benefit bill has doubled since the early 2000s.[viii]

The current crisis has been caused by decades of underinvestment in affordable homes by successive governments. In 2010 the government cut funding for affordable housing by 63%, the biggest cut to any capital budget at the time.[ix] It also cut all funding for new homes at social rents. This led to a rapid decline in the number of new social homes being built, thereby intensifying an already existing shortage. While in recent years, the government has allowed grant funding to be used to build homes for social rents, funding remains at historically low levels. According to NHF research, there are now 4.2 million people in need of social housing in England, including homeless people and those in overcrowded, unaffordable and unsuitable homes.[x]

Despite already reaching record levels, the number of homeless households and families is set to continue worsening at a rapid rate, without urgent action from the government. Research carried out by Pragmatix Advisory, on behalf of the NHF, highlighted that the numbers of children in temporary accommodation is estimated to reach 150,000 by 2030. This would be the equivalent of six children in every school in England living in emergency accommodation.[xi]

Ahead of the next general election, the National Housing Federation is calling on all political parties to commit to a long term national plan to solve the housing crisis, which prioritises social housing.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, says:

“The disparity between rising homelessness and the delivery of new social homes puts into stark perspective just how far away we are from tackling England’s worsening housing crisis. Our research shows we need to build 90,000 socially rented homes each year to house all those in need including homeless families, more than 10 times the number built last year. As homelessness continues rising at record levels, we need comprehensive action to ramp up delivery of social homes to the numbers needed.

“The chronic shortage of social housing is having wide ranging impacts, not only for those becoming homeless and living in poverty and overcrowding, but also in the private rented sector where increased demand from people who cannot access social housing has pushed up rents and in turn house prices. This is also costing the government and indeed the taxpayer huge sums, with costs of temporary accommodation, homelessness prevention and the housing benefit bill soaring.

“This crisis is the result of decades of underinvestment and short-term decisions on housing policy by successive governments. This piecemeal approach must end. As we head towards the next election, we urge all political parties to commit to a national long-term housing plan that prioritises social housing.”

[i] DLUHC, Affordable Supply, 2022/23

[ii] DLUHC, Statutory Homelessness Statistics, 2022/23

[iii] DLUHC, Statutory Homelessness Statistics, 2022/23

[iv] DLUHC, Affordable Supply, 2022/23

[v] DLUHC, Statutory Homelessness Statistics, January-March 2023


[vii] From £0.986187 billion in 2017/18 to £1.596753 billion in 2022/23. MHCLG for the 17/18 figures and DLUHC for the 22/23.


[ix] The_Lyons_Housing_Review_2.pdf (

[x] National Housing Federation - People in housing need 2021

[xi] National Housing Federation - Nearly five million households will live in unaffordable homes by 2030

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