General election 2019: Big changes coming in housing
General election 2019: Big changes coming in housing

It’s housing day in the general election campaign, but it’s not a normal election housing day. In all recent elections the housing policies of the major parties have been welcome but small reforms at best and actually destructive at worst. Now, with major commitments from the big parties, this election marks a sharp turn from the incremental to the transformational. Make no mistake, the plans laid out to build hundreds of thousands of new social homes are big, as are … Read more

General Election 2019: why we can't let MPs forget housing
General Election 2019: why we can't let MPs forget housing

In the last year in England alone, a household became homeless every four minutes. In that same year, 692 rough sleepers died, again in England alone. That’s an increase of 22% on the previous year. Hundreds of people are dying on our streets, thousands are homeless and millions are at risk of losing their homes: this is the UK’s housing emergency. It must not slip off the agenda during this general election.

Earlier this month, the Queen’s Speech introduced her … Read more

3 breakthroughs to help renters on benefits
3 breakthroughs to help renters on benefits

Prejudice against people on housing benefit is leaving renters with nowhere to turn. But thanks to your fantastic support, we’ve taken three big steps forward. 

People who rent in the UK often face unfair discrimination if they’re on benefits, which prevents hundreds of thousands of people living in homes they could otherwise afford, pushing them closer to homelessness. There’s no excuse for this, and even the most plausible defences of ‘No DSS’ are bogus.  

That’s why, in August 2018, we began our campaign to stop DSS discrimination. Here’s what we’ve achieved … Read more

From sleeping on the streets to pounding them for Shelter
From sleeping on the streets to pounding them for Shelter

Taxi driver Barry is a former rough sleeper. He tells us why he’s running the London Marathon for Shelter

Today, I look back at how impossible I was, when really I was a scared and frightened little boy.

I’d spent my teenage years in an out of children’s homes, foster care and supported living. At 16, I was placed into a bedsit with lots of support, but I let myself down by not accepting any help.

At 17 when I … Read more

Unsafe cladding: we’ve made progress, but our campaign isn’t over
Unsafe cladding: we’ve made progress, but our campaign isn’t over
Our campaign 

One year on after Grenfell, only 4% of the 158 social housing tower blocks with the same cladding have had it removed and replaced. In March 2018, we launched our campaign urging the government to step up and make sure these homes are safe. We asked the government to do three things:

provide essential emergency funding to cover the costs of removing and replacing unsafe cladding for social landlords provide guidance on which materials are safe to use… Read more
The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)
The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)

Yesterday, we explored the fact that rent control already exists for assured and assured shorthold tenants i.e. those paying market rent. In this blog, we will discuss three potential reasons why this kind of rent control is under-used and little-known.

Market rents too high

Assured shorthold tenants are able to challenge their rent in a first tier tribunal if they think it is excessive. But ‘excessive’ is defined as significantly higher than the landlord might reasonably expect to receiveRead more

The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 1)

Renting in the private rented sector? Think your rent is too high? You might be one of the 60% of Britain in favour of introducing rent controls. However, you might be surprised to know that rent controls already exist in England.

No, these are not the often-discussed historic ‘fair rent’ properties, the volume of which has dwindled to very small part of the market. Under ‘regulated’ tenancies, tenants are entitled to a ‘fair rent’ set by the Valuation Office Agency, … Read more

Homes for NHS workers... Possibly? Maybe? Perhaps?

Last year, the Department for Health commissioned Sir Robert Naylor to produce an independent report into NHS property – including how to make best use of its land. The resulting report flew under the radar of all but the most diligent, but it contained some incredibly interesting insights into what could happen to NHS land.

On 30 January, the government accepted the majority of Naylor’s recommendations. This includes utilising surplus NHS land to make a financial contribution to estate improvement. … Read more

Local viability policy part 2: What should councils be doing about the viability loophole?

Part one of this blog looked at the councils getting tough on viability assessments. Faced with acute shortages of affordable housing, councils like Bristol City are pulling out all the stops to strengthen their position in Section 106 negotiations with developers. But the development of local policy to limit the damage being done by viability assessments is still in its early stages. Urban councils in areas of high housing demand in the south of England have been much more likely … Read more

Local viability policy part 1: ‘We are pushing the system as hard as we can, but it’s a rigged system.’

Those are the words of Bristol City Council’s cabinet member for housing, Paul Smith, describing his city’s battle against the viability loophole. In 2017, we showed how viability assessments are depriving local communities of the homes they need – with 2,500 affordable homes lost in just one year across just eleven councils.

Since then, the idea that developers need to cut affordable homes from schemes to make them profitable has become even less credible. The top developers have … Read more

The English Housing Survey

Today saw the release of the English Housing Survey (EHS) – the most important source we have for understanding the housing crisis. This government survey collects details on the quality and conditions of the homes households live in. This includes the cost and affordability of those homes.

As the survey has been running for 50 years (in various forms), it’s an invaluable record of how the situation of English households has changed over time.

Home ownership down

An Englishman’s home … Read more

Shelter’s Big Conversation on the future of social housing

The Grenfell fire not only left an indelible mark on the community of North Kensington, but also sent shockwaves through the rest of the country. It’s notable that the fire quickly became viewed not just as a terrible, avoidable tragedy, but also indicative of broader concerns about inequality and poor housing.

The public debate after the fire quickly centred on the allegation that residents’ concerns had been ignored. This led to the suspicion that people living in social housing were … Read more