Social homes improve lives: a Shelter and IKEA research partnership

Social homes improve lives: a Shelter and IKEA research partnership

Shelter is embarking on a groundbreaking longitudinal research project, funded by IKEA, looking at the impact of moving into a social rent home. This research is a pivotal step in our long-term partnership that will see our two organisations joining forces to defend the one thing we value most: home. Together, we are calling on the government to build 90,000 social rent homes a year to address the housing emergency.

Social rent homes are the only genuinely affordable homes as rent is tied to local incomes.  

Social housing pays for itself

We already know that social housing is a good investment. Recent Shelter and the National Housing Federation research only made this clearer. It showed that building 90,000 social rent homes could add £51.2 billion to the economy and is expected to pay for itself within three years. This is because after three years the total benefit is more than the upfront cost of building the homes.

Moving 90,000 households into social housing – mainly from private renting or homelessness – would lead to £31.4 billion in wider benefits to essential services. The wider savings to the government and society include £5.2 billion savings to the NHS, £4.5 billion savings to homelessness services and £2.7 billion savings due to fewer disruptions to education.

Living in social housing is associated with better health outcomes, reduced use of the NHS and improved educational attainment compared to private renting and temporary accommodation. This is because being homeless or living in insecure, unaffordable and poor-quality housing adversely affects people’s health. This can have a knock-on effect on children’s education, leading to children missing days of school and poor educational outcomes.

We’re losing too many social homes

Despite knowing the benefits of social housing, we’re continuing to see the net loss of social rent homes. We’re losing more social homes to sales and demolitions than we’re building. In the last year alone, there’s been a net loss of 11,700 social rent homes.

The lack of genuinely affordable social homes is leading to higher levels of homelessness. There are record numbers of children living in temporary accommodation, with 142,000 children growing up homeless.

IKEA and Shelter’s Real Life room sets have powerfully highlighted the challenges faced by families living in unsafe and insecure temporary accommodation. The room sets were an immersive experience located in IKEA stores in Bristol, Hammersmith, Warrington and Birmingham.

We’ve done it before

The trend of dwindling social housing and growing homelessness isn’t inevitable.

In 1981, one in three households were living in social housing. For decades, social housing was the second most common type of housing after owning your own home. This was due to mass social house building in the postwar period. Governments in the past regularly built tens of thousands of social homes every year – there was a peak of over 200,000 in the mid-1950s.

We know there are barriers to building social homes. The recent UCL report on local authority housebuilding highlighted councils’ concerns about the lack of available land, high land costs and cuts to grant funding. But we also know what the solution is: increased government funding for social rent homes.

We can reverse this loss by building the social homes we need to end the housing emergency. We’ve done it in the past and can do it again.

New research: bridging the gap  

There is clear evidence that building social housing is good for the economy and essential services as it provides people with a stable, genuinely affordable home. But we’re continuing to lose social homes every year.

Our new research project attempts to bridge this gap. IKEA has funded Shelter to deliver an ambitious two-year longitudinal research project looking at the impact of moving into a social home. HACT (the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust) will deliver the work on Shelter’s behalf by reaching out to social landlords and bringing together evidence from social tenants who have recently moved into a social home.

We know that living in a good-quality social home is the foundation for a healthy life, but we want to hear from people with direct experience to understand the impact that living in a social home has on people’s health, wellbeing and children’s lives.

Please complete this form if you’d like to keep up to date with the research project.

Action is needed now to end the housing emergency

We can’t wait until these research findings are published to get decisive action on social housing. That’s why IKEA and Shelter are calling for the main political parties to make a commitment to build 90,000 social rent homes every year to solve the housing emergency.

Please sign our petition today to call on the government to build social housing.