Around one in three adults in Britain (17.5 million) have been negatively impacted by the ongoing housing crisis, according to landmark new research by the housing charity Shelter.
The charity’s report, ‘Denied the Right to a Safe Home’, combines its own research with the latest government data on homelessness to expose the shocking reality faced by millions of households in Britain today.
The report finds that 11.8 million people (23%) are living in homes with significant damp, mould and condensation, or that they cannot keep warm in winter.
Worryingly, when children are factored into the results, the number of people affected by Britain’s housing emergency rises to 22 million.
Race, disability, sexuality and socio-economic status can all barriers to finding a safe and suitable home.
Four million people (8%) are regularly forced to cut back on essential items, like food and heating, to pay their housing costs.
And another four million people are worried about losing or being asked to leave their current home. This is largely driven by private renters who live in the least secure housing.
Shelter’s report concludes that Britain’s housing system is unaffordable, unfit, unstable and discriminatory – a situation made even worse by the pandemic.
To end the escalating housing emergency, it wants the government to build at least 90,000 good-quality social homes a year.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Decades of neglect have left Britain’s housing system on its knees. A safe home is everything, yet millions don’t have one.
“Lives are being ruined by benefit cuts, blatant discrimination and the total failure to build social homes. 23% are living in homes with significant damp, mould and condensation.
“Shelter believes a safe home is a human right, but the pain and desperation our frontline staff see every day shows this is still a long way off.
“That’s why we are fighting for the single mum who has to put her child to bed in a room covered in mould, and the disabled man living on the twelfth floor with a broken lift.
“We are fighting for everyone impacted by the housing emergency – and as we emerge from the pandemic, we want the public and politicians to do the same.”
Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “This comes as no surprise after a decade of neglect and failure by ministers on housing.
“The pandemic has shown the deep inequalities in our housing system, with those in insecure, overcrowded homes more at risk of the health and economic impacts of the crisis including many who were previously able to keep up with their housing costs, but through no fault of their own are now in dire straits.
“Instead of an ambitious plan to deal with the housing emergency, ministers are weakening protections for people with Covid-related rent arrears, kicking renters rights and social housing reform into the long grass, and diluting measures to build more affordable homes to rent and buy.”