People in housing need

15 September 2020

Report summary

  • Local housing registers (otherwise known as ‘waiting lists’) serve an important administrative function, but they do not give us the full picture of how many people are in need of a home.
  • This report shows that nearly 8 million people in England have some form of housing need.
  • For more than 3.8 million of these people, social rented housing would be the most appropriate tenure to address that need.
  • This equates to 1.6 million households – 500,000 more than the 1.16m households recorded on official waiting lists.
  • On top of this, we are concerned that the number of people in need of social housing could rise rapidly as a result of the coronavirus crisis – with low-income earners roughly twice as likely to lose their jobs.
  • Long-term investment in social housing is needed to tackle this problem and provide people with suitable homes they can afford.
  • We’ve formed a coalition of charities, businesses, banks, and think tanks to call on the government to put building social homes at the heart of its plans for recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Housing associations are key partners to deliver these much-needed homes.
  • You can find out more by visiting housing.org.uk/HomesAtTheHeart

The National Housing Federation (NHF) is the voice of housing associations in England. With almost 800 housing association members, providing homes for around six million people, we are at the forefront of tackling the nation’s housing crisis. Our vision is for a country where everyone can live in a good quality home they can afford. We work with our members to make this vision a reality – delivering ambitious programmes that lead to lasting, positive change.

We believe that it is imperative to understand the scale of housing need in order to plan appropriate policy responses, and to humanise and better inform the debate around the scale and dynamics of the need for new housing.

That is why we’re publishing this People in Housing Need report, which clearly outlines the number of people hit by housing problems, what issues they are facing – such as unaffordability, overcrowding or poor conditions – and what housing would be most appropriate to meet their needs, based on income and circumstances.

This is the most comprehensive report to date on the number of people in need of social housing in England, which has now hit 3.8 million people. This equates to 1.6 million households – 500,000 more than the 1.16 million households recorded on official waiting lists.

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On top of this, we are concerned that the number of people in need of social housing could rise rapidly as a result of the coronavirus crisis – with low-income earners roughly twice as likely to lose their jobs.

In its recent announcement on the Affordable Homes Programme for 2021-26, government has acknowledged the important role homes for social rent play in meeting the housing needs of so many people. Long-term, sustained investment in social housing is critical to tackling the problems identified in this report by providing people with suitable homes they can afford.

We’ve formed a coalition of charities, businesses, banks, and think tanks to call on the government to put building social homes at the heart of its plans for recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Housing associations are key partners to deliver these much-needed homes.

You can find out more by visiting housing.org.uk/HomesAtTheHeart