“Affordable housing; affordable for who? Not for my family, never for my family.”
Elaine is a mother and grandmother from Bexley, London. She works hard as a midwife and really enjoys it. However, Elaine is one of the many women in the UK affected by the housing crisis. There is a chronic housing shortage in the UK and though the government is prioritising building so-called ‘affordable’ housing, it is not affordable for most families. In her video, Elaine highlights that there is an increasing demand for social housing but the government has failed to supply social housing to the most in need families in the UK
‘Affordable housing; affordable for who? Not for my family, never for my family. The right to buy was wrong because the people that were living in the houses didn’t want to buy in the first place. They were given the opportunity and they grabbed it with both hands and you can’t blame them for that. In Beckley where I live there are 700 people on the waiting list, 700 people times that by 32 boroughs is 220,000 people desperately wanting a home. The bedroom tax hasn’t done anything expect make poor people miss out. Most people blame the immigration coming in taking all the houses, no they are not. Most of the immigrants coming in are in private housing not in social housing.’
What is the government’s policy on affordable housing?
Housing affordability is a key concern for many in the UK. The government has said it is helping communities around the UK to build better places for people to live and to ensure housing becomes more affordable to rent and buy. A new housing policy was introduced last year that promotes “starter homes” to buy which are subsidised by the government. This is in order to promote higher levels of homeownership, specifically focused on new buyers. Prices of these starter homes begin from £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 in London. A report found that this new policy would only actually help 5% of the people stuck in unaffordable private renting, as these starter homes are still too expensive for most people in the UK.
In addition, the new build output has proved to be a big challenge for the government. In London, it is projected by the government that 56,000 new homes need to be built every year to accommodate new households, however in the past few years, London has seen less than half of these numbers being built. There is a major gap between the housing needs of people and new homes actually being built.
What is the government’s policy on social housing?
The government has taken a much-reduced role for social housing. Grant funding is continuously disappearing for social housing and therefore there is a decline in social house building. As the government’s housing focus is on supplying ‘affordable’ housing, for every affordably property building, one or more existing social housing property will be lost.
What is the issue with this approach?
House prices in London are some of the highest in the world. Low-middle income earners are a group who are continuing to struggle due to the rising cost of rents, especially single women and lone parent mothers who have to balance part time work and child responsibilities. Women are often poorer and so are less likely to be able to get on the property ladder. Cuts to social housing hit women hardest, and women are in greater need of affordable rented accommodation from housing associations.
The funding for social housing has fallen in recent years. Right now there are more than 1.8 million households waiting to be allocated social housing, and the waiting lists for social housing are rapidly growing. As such, more and more people are being forced into private rented housing. This leaves thousands of individuals and families vulnerable and without access to suitable houses that they can afford.