Homelessness has surged for seven years. And it’s clear who’s to blame

People sleeping rough in Marble Arch, London
 ‘If you cut and cap benefits, leave a snowballing housing crisis untouched and fail to question the specious morals of the market, it will have human costs.’ or

From the knuckles upwards, at least three of his fingers were missing. Frostbite last winter, he said. Some of his toes had gone too. Someone had found him unconscious with hypothermia, and he had spent months in hospital before once again living on the street. He said he needed £17 for a one-night stay in a hostel: I gave him a fiver and some cigarettes, and we talked some more.

 We had dealt with homelessness. Why has it now returned?

I was in Manchester, covering the Conservative party conference. With work over for the day, I had gone for dinner in the city’s so-called Northern Quarter, where people eat and drink in self-consciously fashionable bars and restaurants, and a steady stream of homeless people tend to circulate, asking for help.

The man sitting next to me at an outdoor table was a case in point. Until a few years ago, he said, he had lived with his mother in Wythenshawe, on the southern edge of the city. When she had died, their social-housing tenancy had ended, and when he had lost his last job everything had fallen to pieces.

When I got home, I was reminded that the viscerally human story he had told me was in line with research and statistics: 83% of single homeless people are reckoned to be men. The average age of death among homeless people is estimated to be 47, around 30 years below the figure for the population as a whole.

The scourge of homelessness and rough sleeping has been growing at speed. A snapshot count by the National Audit Office in autumn 2016 suggested that just over 4,100 people in England were sleeping rough, a figure that had increased by a massive 134% since 2010. At the same point, the number of households in temporary accommodation was reckoned to be 77,000, up 60% in six years.

Andy Burnham
 ‘Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says universal credit threatens to double his region’s number of rough sleepers.’ 

Some of these figures look like underestimates. In Greater Manchester, homelessness is said to have quadrupled since 2010. Homelessness charity Crisis estimates that in 2016 rough sleeping in the UK averaged around 9,000. What really matters, though, is that all of these problems are set to get much worse. A recent study by academics at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland said that if government policy remains as it is now, the number of homeless people in Britain will reach 575,000 by 2041, up from 236,000 in 2016. Over the same period, the number of people sleeping rough could top 40,000.

Little more than a year ago, the official approach to homelessness was still often stuck in a rut of punitive measures and apparent inhumanity: councils imposing fines for begging and rough sleeping, and endless talk of crackdowns and zero tolerance. Now, though, accompanied by a clear sense of political panic, there are the first signs of a thaw, not least at the top.

Yesterday, Theresa May returned to Manchester to seemingly exorcise the ghost of that awful conference speech, and announce a £3.8m contribution to something called the “Greater Manchester Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer” – a means of showing her approval for a new array of measures aimed at getting longlasting help to the region’s homeless people, many of them authored by Greater Manchester’s new Labour mayor, Andy Burnham.

Meanwhile, parliament has recently passed the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will supposedly ensure that councils have increased obligations to homeless people, not least when it comes to the single-person households who currently tend to fall through the net, or what remains of it.

Clearly, all this is proof that homelessness is newly intruding on politics, but it jars against two unavoidable questions. First, as evidenced by its meagre new pledges on social housing, why does the government still seem largely focused on symptoms, rather than causes? And when it comes to the latter, who is ultimately to blame?

The answer is terribly simple, embodied in the fact that all those homelessness statistics show a surge that began in 2010. The Conservative party has long had a streak of cold cruelty, and the obscenities of current homelessness are the result.

Where to even start? Of course, if you cut and cap benefits, leave a snowballing housing crisis untouched and fail to question the specious morals of the market, it will have human costs. When, as chancellor, George Osborne started slashing housing subsidies, hacking down housing benefit and restricting single people under 35 to the meanest of entitlements, where did he think it would all end up?

The answer is stark: Shelter reckons that 78% of the rise in homelessness over the last six years was due to people being evicted from privately rented homes, but that did not give anyone in power pause for thought.

Since 2016, rates of housing benefit paid to people in the private sector – set according to what’s called the local housing allowance, which the Tory/Lib Dem coalition pegged to the lowest third of local market rents, rather than the previous lowest half – have been frozen, while rents have carried on rising, not least in cities.

Worse still, from March 2019 the same limits will apply to housing benefit going to people living in social housing, which professionals say will have a dire impact on one group in particular: again, single people under 35. If they are lucky enough to live alone in, say, a one-bedroom flat in a tower block, they will suddenly have to find accommodation in the kind of shared houses that are lamentably thin on the ground. Not for the first time, you’d think you were looking at a policy designed specifically to increase homelessness.

The impact of benefit sanctions barely needs mentioning. And now comes universal credit, already rolled out in areas scattered across the country, and now set to be extended even further before its full introduction in 2022.

Private landlords are already refusing to let properties to people in receipt of the new benefit, for fear of their tenants going into arrears. Councils and housing associations say that the mandatory six-week gap between making a claim and receiving a first payment is leading to huge problems, and evictions directly related to the new system are already under way.

 Andy Burnham is giving part of his salary away. Should we all follow suit?

Cuts to the so-called working allowance will leave many people thousands of pounds a year worse off. There is palpable anxiety about the most awful of outcomes: life in emergency accommodation, or, if lives truly fall apart, on the street.

In Manchester, Burnham says universal creditthreatens to double his region’s number of rough sleepers. “If the rollout goes ahead as planned it will make our problem dramatically worse,” he says.

The words have an air of unintentional understatement, but they highlight two of 2017’s biggest stories: on the streets of our cities, everyday matters of life and death. And in Whitehall, a government seemingly lost in its own cruelties.



Hammond urged to scrap benefit cap as 1 million face homelessness

Shelter calls on chancellor to act in next month’s budget while council leaders attack failure to fix ‘broken’ housing market.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, faces a chorus of calls to scrap the cap on housing benefit in his budget next month as a leading charity and local government leaders criticised government plans to fix the “broken” housing market as inadequate.

In her party conference speech, Theresa May promised to dedicate her premiership to addressing the shortage of housing, saying the state must get “back in the business” of building subsidised rented homes for those not able to buy. She announced a £2bn injection of public funds which the government said could pay for an extra 25,000 homes for social rent by 2021.

This is the real reason why the Tories can’t solve the housing crisis

But the homeless charity Shelter said that, while the extra money was welcome, it was a tiny proportion of what was required and would not help about a million private renters who were in immediate danger of being made homeless as a result of the housing benefit cap.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “The money put forward is only a fraction of what’s needed, given just how bad this crisis has become. Building new homes also takes time, and time is not on the side of the million private renters who could risk being tipped into homelessness by the freeze on housing benefit. Whether a struggling family or a young person in low-paid work, the freeze is stripping away the help people desperately need to pay their rent.

“Given the tide of despair faced by hard-up renters, we are urging the government to abandon the freeze on housing benefit in the autumn budget or risk making more people homeless.”

A survey by Shelter of 3,978 renters found that 79% of those who were in work while also claiming housing benefit were struggling with their rent payments. More than half of these “working renters” on housing benefit were worried about losing their homes, while 71% said it was harder to find a decent affordable home now compared with five years ago.

The Local Government Association, equally concerned that rising rents have left many people who claim housing benefit with large shortfalls, has also called on the government to scrap the cap on housing benefit, which under current plans is due to carry on until 2020.

Separately, more than 50 leaders of Labour councils and Labour mayors have written to May demanding more funding so that councils can build the homes their communities need.

In their letter, the local Labour leaders say: “Your conference announcement follows in a long line of policy decisions that Tory ministers have made on housing since 2010, which has done nothing to fix the housing crisis, and in many cases made the problems worse.”

“Home-ownership across the country is down sharply, with almost 200,000 fewer homeowners since 2010, rough sleeping has more than doubled, private rents have risen faster than incomes, housing benefit spending has increased, and affordable housebuilding last year was at the lowest level in 24 years.”


The hidden homelessness crisis: ‘what happens to those who are turned away?’

Official homelessness figures may not be capturing the extent of the crisis – particularly among single mothers and young people

Rear view of mid adult woman and baby daughter looking out of living room window
 Being in a precarious financial situation leaves single mothers vulnerable to rent arrears and eviction. 

There were 59,260 people accepted as statutorily homeless in 2016. Despite this being less than half of the 2003 peak of 135,000, it represents a 48% increase since 2009. But the impact has by no means fallen evenly.

The statutory definition of homelessness is just one of a number of categories of homelessness, taking into account only individuals or families who local authorities are obliged to assist. Figures released for 2016/17 by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that the largest proportion of people affected by statutory homelessness are single mothers – 47% of the overall figure, despite making up only 9.2% of households.

Research by single parent charity Gingerbread shows that a third of single parents have been affected adversely by welfare reform, while 39% are in low-paid work. Research officer Sumi Rabindrakumar says being in a precarious financial situation leaves single mothers vulnerable to rent arrears and eviction. “We’ve seen parents who’ve had to leave work because they can’t afford childcare costs,” she says.

But Rabindrakumar believes that the problem might be even worse than indicated by the official figures. Pressure on budgets is making councils increasingly reluctant to rehouse single mothers and authorities are applying ever-stricter criteria. “We’ve had a woman who was a victim of domestic violence and was told she’d made herself homeless,” she says.

Another group disproportionately vulnerable to homelessness is young people aged 16-24, who represent more than a fifth (22%) of the overall figure for statutory homelessness. Balbir Chatrik, director of policy at charity Centrepoint, believes that number should be treated with caution. Centrepoint recently used the Freedom of Information Act to find out the number of young people approaching councils about homelessness, and it was 150,000 – far higher than the recorded statistic.

“So what’s happening to those who are being turned away?” she asks.

In the past year, 71% of appeals against homelessness decisions have been successful, suggesting that some councils are turning away many people who are, in fact, eligible to be rehoused. The statistics also show that black and minority and ethnic (BAME) groups now account for 34% of all statutorily homeless people, despite making up only 11% of the UK population.

Research by Suzanne Fitzpatrick, professor of housing and social policy at Heriott-Watt University, suggests there is one factor above all that underlies most of these issues: poverty. In particular, whether a person has experienced poverty as a child is a key factor in future homelessness. “The idea that everyone is two pay cheques away from poverty is a complete myth,” she says. Fitzpatrick’s research clearly shows that young, single mothers are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless. “Some groups are more vulnerable than others,” she says.

Of the top 10 worst areas for homelessness, only one is outside of the south-east of England: Birmingham, where the rate of homelessness has increased by 2,000% since 2009/10 – up from 157 cases then to 3,479 last year.

One charity trying to tackle this rise is the Sifa Fireside project. It hosts advisers from Shelter and also provides free legal advice through a partnership with the Central England Law Centre.

Michael Bates, manager of the Birmingham Community Law Centre, says £350m was cut from legal aid in 2013, almost completely eradicating free advice in areas such as welfare and housing. But the centre’s presence as part of the project means this help is still available – and is still vital, according to Lynn Evans, from Sifa Fireside. She points to a recent case where people were wrongly advised that they did not qualify for benefits.

“Since our intervention, the DWP has issued guidance to all jobcentres in Birmingham to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Evans says.


Government welfare policy hampering efforts to tackle homelessness



The vast majority of councils and housing associations believe government welfare policy is hitting their efforts to tackle homelessness, according to new research.

The research by the Chartered Institute of Housing and the University of Sheffield, launched today (Thursday), reveals 84% of the 106 councils and 70% of the 50 housing associations (which run 39% of the total housing association stock in England) surveyed, think welfare policies like the lower benefit cap are impacting negatively on their work together to tackle homelessness.

Meanwhile nearly half of the housing associations surveyed during the research, conducted as part of the Crook Public Service Fellowship, said households being unable to pay their rent due to limited welfare assistance was one of the main reasons they had to refuse a nomination.

Terrie Alafat, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “This research shows that welfare policy is seriously undermining the work that councils and housing associations can do to reduce homelessness.

“The government has stated its commitment to tackle homelessness and the Homelessness Reduction Act, which comes into effect next year, represents significant progress. But it is also clear that welfare policy is directly undermining that effort.

“Policies like the lower benefit cap are leaving people with significant gaps between the help they get with housing costs and their rent and this research highlights the direct impact that is having on the work councils and housing associations are trying to do together to help those most in need.

“We know from experience that tackling homelessness is possible but it requires a commitment from all government departments. If the government is serious about tackling our homelessness crisis it must urgently consider how it can create a policy framework which supports, and not undermines, what councils and housing associations can achieve together to tackle this huge problem.”

Professor David Robinson, from the University of Sheffield, who worked on the project, said: “The introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act has been widely welcomed. The act gives councils important new responsibilities and powers.

“However, councils cannot tackle homelessness on their own – they need help. Evidence that the vital role that housing associations traditionally play helping councils to reduce homelessness is being undermined is therefore deeply concerning.

“These findings underline why we urgently need a coordinated effort to tackle homelessness.”

 The Chartered Institute of Housing and the University of Sheffield worked together on the research project which circulated a survey to all 353 local authorities and 449 housing associations across the UK to explore the challenges they face working together to tackle homelessness.

A total of 106 councils and 50 housing associations – the latter of which run 39% of the total housing association stock in England, responded to the survey in which 71% of housing associations and 72% of local authorities also said changes to funding levels were undermining the contribution they could make to tackling homelessness.

When asked the most common reasons for housing associations rejecting nominations of homeless households, 49% of housing associations and 61% of local authorities said limited entitlement to welfare assistance, meaning someone would be unable to afford their home, was the most common reason.

The project is supported by the Crook Public Service Fellowships at the University of Sheffield and the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator fund (ESRC IAA).

Professor Craig Watkins, vice president and head of the faculty of social sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “The Crook Public Service Fellowships at the University of Sheffield are providing future leaders in the public and third sectors with unique opportunities to join our social sciences academics, to engage in new and innovative thinking, which can help improve their sector, and potentially wider society.

“We are really proud to host the scheme and to be seeing the findings of the research projects come to fruition.”

This is an official press release from the Chartered Institute of Housing


Britain’s 21st-century housing catastrophe bears an eerie resemblance to my childhood


In the 1920s,  was shunted from one cold, dirty, overcrowded hovel to the next, fleeing by night when his father could no longer pay the rent. Nearly a century on, little has changed for many working-class families 

On my many recent trips across Britain, I’ve seen on a few occasions families being put into the street by a bailiff, which is not surprising because in 2015 there were 15,000 such occurrences.

When it comes to housing, we have moved beyond crisis in 21st-century Britain and snuggled up to catastrophe. Low wages, along with curtailed government benefits, have made more than 82,000 tenants two months in arrears on their rent. It’s worse for universal-credit tenants: three in four of them are in serious arrears for their lodgings.

The problem people face today was faced by their ancestors before the welfare state. I am living proof of this because I remember our flits. In January 1927, my family upped sticks in the freezing darkness because my dad just wasn’t able to pay our landlord his due. That first time we disappeared under dark clouds, my dad tapped my shoulder to wake me as I slept with my sister on a filthy mattress that stank of other people’s piss and sweat. My sister and I jumped from our bed, still dressed in shabby clothes provided by a local charity. We quietly shuffled downstairs in confused fright and into the night air.

All we took was what we could put into sacks and carry on our backs, like modern-day migrants. In an act of sentimentality or defiance against our fate, my dad brought with him an oil portrait of his father in an ornate gilded frame, which indicated that at one time our family had the luxury of adorning the walls of our home with painted mementoes of much-loved relatives. Along with the portrait, my father carried an eight-volume edition of the Harmsworth History of the World. I think he took those objects with us so that my sister Alberta and I would know that, even though he had been undone by an unequal economy, he once had greater ambitions and prospects for himself than fighting like an animal for scraps of food to keep his family fed.

Being homeless is in many ways like being orphaned because your moorings to love and security are cut and you are cast adrift into a torrent of uncertainty. As a child and teenager, I never felt secure in my housing or whether I’d be able to get a decent meal at the end of the day. The tenement we fled to in Barnsley in 1927 was smaller than the hovel we had left just one hurried step ahead of the bailiff. We had to share it with an elderly, childless couple. For the first few days, the fireplace grates were cold because our housemates were waiting for my parents to buy the fuel.

Housing in the north of England in the 1930s.
 Housing in the north of England in the 1930s. 

In truth, the house we moved into was no better than a stall for an animal in a poor farmer’s paddock. That we were forced to live this way in the past was unjust, but if you don’t think it is happening in today’s Britain, think again. Sky News reported in 2016 that one-third of private rented homes aren’t up to proper standards of health and safety. Moreover, three-quarters of a million homes are infested with rodents, are damp and have other problems that make them dangerous to dwell in. Yet the owners of these fleapits can earn a fortune in rent because 21st-century Britain is becoming as socially dystopian as it was in my boyhood.

Governments have encouraged both greed and the notion that housing is the best investment for those with disposable income, fuelling house-price and rent increases by speculation as well as a decline in affordable accommodation. Moreover, the Tory government in London, and Tory councils all across the country, have slashed regulations, making it easier to exploit those seeking affordable and safe housing.

As there were only two bedrooms in our new home, my family kipped together while our housemates slept in the other room. The four of us huddled on one small mattress under dirty blankets for warmth as if we were rabbits packed tight in a hutch being sold at Barnsley market.

Shortly after our arrival, the man who shared the house with us died and his widow moved out. She left carrying a cardboard suitcase and much later my mother told me she had made a vague promise, “like a bloody sailor”, to return and sort out her portion of the rent. Before she could make good on her word, my parents decided it was better for us to move on to an even less expensive and more inhospitable area. We never seemed to move far from where we started, and this time we ended up near the local tip. On most days, you could smell it festering from our stoop.

My sister would drag me to the tip in hope of finding lost treasure. There, we scampered through its ocean of rubbish looking for something to sell or barter like children now do in developing countries.

In the winter of early 1928, my family was undone by its greatest calamity when my dad was seriously injured in a mining accident. He was brought home to us on a barrow pulled by two mates. At first, my mother was relieved that he hadn’t been killed in a cave-in. For those who worked underground, death or injury at work was a normal occurrence.

Over time, my mum’s relief at my dad’s survival became clouded by her rage at being saddled with a man who couldn’t provide during an era when married women were not encouraged to work by the state, their families or potential employers.

My parents and the rest of the lower classes were being immersed in petty debt, lack of affordable housing and work shortages that were producing malnutrition, premature death and anxiety in epidemic quantity.

Harry Leslie Smith today.
 Harry Leslie Smith today.

Sadly, not much has changed for many people since 1928 because 3.9 million British families are just one pay cheque away from insolvency, which means that should the breadwinners of households lose their income like my dad did, their prospects in Tory Britain may become as bleak as ours were almost a century ago. Many people just don’t know any more if they can keep their heads above water, and that’s a recipe for social disaster. Revolutions and civic unrest always develop after prolonged inequalities. Some, like the 1945 creation of our welfare state, are peaceful; others, like the Arab spring in 2010, are chaotic and brutal.

This is why everyone should be concerned by the 2016 presidential election in the US because, although it was a democratic vote that made Donald Trump president and gave power to his radical views on race, trade and diplomacy, it was also a revolution that upset the normal tide of government. The same has occurred in Britain with Brexit, and the question on everyone’s mind is: what will happen to our country once it is enacted? Will we see chaos, or progress?

Right now, the tipping point for our society might be the housing crisis. The threat of homelessness since the 2008 banking crisis has grown while the wages of the average worker have fallen. The Trades Union Congress, after analysing income data for the past nine years, has concluded that real income for average workers has declined by 1% each year since 2008: that is a 9% drop in earnings, whereas rent has increased over the same period by more than 2%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Anyone who is an ordinary person in Britain is at risk of losing what little they’ve earned because, as the welfare state shrinks, housing becomes more expensive, dental care becomes unaffordable, higher education becomes out of reach. In fact, if you lose your job, or you or your loved ones get sick, you are at the mercy of a system that no longer empathises with your struggles because our Tory government is more concerned with preserving the entitlement of corporations to pay as little tax as possible to the state.

In seven years of government, the Tories have slashed corporate tax from 28% to 17%. In that same period of government, according to the Rowntree Foundation, the number of British people living in poverty has risen to 13.5 million. Moreover, the foundation has concluded that there are more than a million people in our country who are destitute and unable adequately to feed themselves or afford decent shelter.

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to know that Britain isn’t walking into an egalitarian future under this Tory government. It is being frogmarched into an economic dystopia that has an eerie resemblance to the inequality I witnessed as a boy in the 1920s and 1930s, when poverty was the norm for working-class Britain. It’s why, despite all that is modern and beyond my aged grasp, I find the 21st century too familiar for my liking.


Streets Apart: A History of Social History

In case you missed it, you still have chance to catch up with a superb history of social housing that ran over the last two weeks on Radio 4.

Lynsey Hanley’s Streets Apart told the story from the beginning of council housing in the 19th Century in Liverpool to the present. I got the impression that most of it was made before the fire at Grenfell Tower, but its shadow looms over everything.

Why is the series so good? Partly that Lynsey Hanley knows what she is talking about (as author of Estates: An Intimate History and Respectable: The Experience of Class). She is also an engaging presenter with an accent not normally heard on Radio 4 that comes from her upbringing on the Chelmsley Wood estate in Solihull.

Partly because her interviewees know what they are talking about: they are a mixture of experts in local areas, in architecture, planning and housing and local residents who are given time to tell their stories.



Government spends four times more subsidising private housing than building affordable homes

Study shows 79 per cent of total housing budget is spent on higher-cost homes

The Government is spending four times as much – some £32bn – subsidising private housing as it is building affordable homes for low income families, a report has revealed.

The study showed 79 per cent of the total housing budget is currently spent on higher-cost homes for sale, including through the controversial Help to Buy scheme, but just 21 per cent, around £8bn, goes to affordable homes for rent.

The annual review carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) exposes a significant shift away from programmes that lead to new homes being built.

In 2010-11 the Government contributed £2.5bn to the Affordable Homes Programme but by 2015/16 that had fallen to just £285m.

In total, the amount of public money going to help housing associations build new homes has dropped from £3.8bn in 2010-11 to £1.3bn last year.

It comes after the most recent data showed that Conservative ministers have completely stopped funding new social housing, which is 30-40 per cent cheaper than affordable housing.

The new report is published on the day the independent Grenfell Tower Inquiry is set to begin, and also coincides with the three-month anniversary of the fire, in which at least 80 people died.

Government ministers have received criticism for not investing enough money in building and maintaining homes for people on low incomes.

The CIH report reveals that the number of affordable homes being built with Government money has fallen by 50 per cent since 2010, from 56,000 to 28,000.

Instead, money has been diverted to help middle- and high-income households get on the housing ladder. For example, around £5bn of loans have been given to buyers via the Help to Buy Scheme established by George Osborne in 2013.

The CIH called for a shift in spending to help people on lower incomes afford homes.

Its chief executive, Terrie Alafat, said: “People on lower incomes are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet as they experience the impact of stagnant wages, rising inflation and welfare reform cuts. These factors and the shift towards ‘affordable rent’ all mean that housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable in many parts of the country.

“We know we need to build more homes to get to grips with our national housing crisis – our UK Housing Review briefing highlights that annual supply remains at least 30,000 homes short of household growth. But it’s not just about building more homes; it’s about building more affordable homes for people on lower incomes. The Government needs to take an urgent look at rebalancing the housing budget and investing more in genuinely affordable homes for rent.

“The November Budget gives the Government a golden opportunity to rebalance investment away from the private sector towards affordable housing without having to increase its overall commitment to housing.”

Social housing resident reveals ‘segregation’ in luxury developments

Critics say that, because affordable homes can cost up to 80 per cent of market value, they are not affordable for millions of people on low incomes.

However, Conservative ministers have prioritised building affordable homes over social homes.

As a result, since 2010 the number of new social homes has plummeted by 97 per cent, from almost 37,000 in 2010 to just over 1,100 last year.

Ministers have also prioritised the building of “starter homes”, properties for sale at a 20 per cent discount.

Responding to the report, Labour accused government ministers of “washing their hands” of responsibility for building affordable homes.

John Healey, the Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “Affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low as Conservative ministers have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need.

“Ministers have tried to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes as ‘affordable’. The Conservative definition of ‘affordable housing’ now includes homes close to full market rent and those on sale for up to £450,000.

”Public concern about housing is around the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs. Faced with this, ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most: by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.

“Phillip Hammond must use the Autumn Budget to reverse the damage his Government have done in the last seven years and back Labour’s plans to build thousands more genuinely affordable homes.”

The CIH called for more investment to maintain existing social homes – a need it said had been exposed by the Grenfell disaster. It said the Decent Homes Standard, which is used to measure whether a property is of an acceptable quality, has not been updated for ten years and that funding for helping landlords to maintain their properties has been scrapped.

“Essentially, investment in the existing social stock has been left for landlords to finance from rents, while government has been cutting their rental income and will continue to do so for another two years”, the report said.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment.