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Cross-party call for £3m social homes

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There should be a major housebuilding programme to deliver 3.1 million social homes over the next 20 years, according to a cross-party commission.

The programme will be necessary to provide homes for the increasing number of people renting in the UK and to improve living conditions and affordability within the private rented sector, the commission said in a report published today.

“Today we are feeling the effects of 40 years of failure in housing policy. This crisis has seen a catastrophic decline in social housing, leaving millions in insecure and unaffordable rented homes – with home ownership an impossible dream, and increasing numbers of people tipped into homelessness,” it said.

“Over the next twenty years, hundreds of thousands more people will be forced into homelessness by insecure tenancies and sky-high housing costs. But if we act now, we can change this.”

The Shelter social housing commission was launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and commissioners include former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi, former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Goldman Sachs chief economist Lord Jim O’Neill.

Twenty organisations submitted evidence to the commission including the Local Government Association. Thirteen public debates were also held across the country.

The prime minister in October announced that the government will abolish the cap on councils’ borrowing against housing revenue accounts.

The commission claims the proposed housebuilding programme will deliver a return on investment in less than 40 years, due in part to savings on housing benefit payments.

The report also calls for a new regulator to inspect and enforce standards in the private rented sector, permanent tenancies for private renters, and the creation of an independent tenants’ rights organisation.

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