Half a million more children living in poverty for want of social housing, says NHF

HALF a million more children are living in poverty in a private rented home than was the case a decade ago, claims a report by the National Housing Federation (NHF).

Research the organisation has carried our is said to have revealed that there are now an estimated 1.3 million children living in poverty in privately rented homes in England, an increase of 537,325 children (69%) since 2008.

Furthermore, today nearly half (46%) of all children in privately rented homes in England live in poverty. This is despite seven in 10 (71%) of their families being in work.

“It is a disgrace that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world we cannot provide our children with a secure and affordable home,” said Kate Henderson, the NHF’s chief executive. “The critical lack of social housing is pushing more and more families into poverty by forcing them into insecure privately rented homes they cannot afford.”

High property prices and a shrinking proportion of social housing mean that the number of families living in privately rented homes has increased by more than three quarters in a decade – growing faster than couples and single people.

The report shows that many parents are being forced to live in insecure private rented homes which they can’t afford, pushing them and their children into poverty. Since 2012, families living in private rented homes have outnumbered families in social housing.

Faced with such figures, the NHF is calling for “urgent support” from Government to build more social housing to help lift these children out of poverty.

The report reveals that around a quarter of a million – 242,753 – of these children would not be living in poverty if they had access to social housing.

A further half a million children would be better off in social housing, with their families able to keep more of their income. These children have also been affected by low incomes, cuts to tax credits, and other benefit changes.

The report shows that by moving into social housing, typically 51% of market rent, households in poverty would be around £3,172 a year better off – more than a year’s worth of food for an average household.

What’s more, the NHF says the Government would also save around £1.8 billion of taxpayers’ money each year in housing benefit payments.

The NHF is calling on the Government to:

  • Provide more direct funding for social housing, particularly for family homes which are more expensive to build
  • Reform of the way that land is sold, so that housing associations building social housing are no longer priced out by luxury developers who stand to make millions in profit

According to figures from the National Housing Federation and Crisis, England needs to build 90,000 social homes a year to make up for the critical shortage. Last year only 6,463 were built.

Henderson added: “It’s so obvious that we need to be building more social housing and the Government has a duty to our children to invest in this. This means increasing funding for social housing and urgently reforming the way that land is sold in this country.

“We will only be able to build desperately needed social homes for children living in poverty if housing associations have access to land instead of the current situation where they are forced to bid directly against private developers who make millions from luxury properties.”



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