The National Housing Federation, along with Shelter, Crisis, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Chartered Institute of Housing, has called on the government to build more social homes.
They said this could be achieved by investing £12.8bn every year for the next decade and the homes must include 90,000 homes for social rent, 30,000 homes at intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 shared ownership homes.
This follows research from The National Housing Federation showing that about 1 in seven (8.4 million) people are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes. More than 3.6 million people are living in overcrowded homes, while 2.5 million people can’t afford their rent or mortgage.
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “Today’s research reveals the full enormity of the housing crisis – clearly, it is the single biggest domestic issue we face.
“The government risks losing votes if it doesn’t take action to tackle the consequences it has for the lives of young and old alike, all across the country.
“From Cornwall to Cumbria, millions of people are being pushed into debt and poverty because rent is too expensive, children can’t study because they have no space in their overcrowded homes, and many older or disabled people are struggling to move around their own home because it’s unsuitable.
“This crisis cannot be solved by tweaks around the edges of the housing market. What we need is a return to proper funding for social housing, to the levels last seen under Churchill.
“Investing in housing is a win-win for the government – it would bring down the housing benefit bill, provide everyone with a secure and stable start in life, and kick start an economic boom creating thousands of jobs.”
Some 2.5 million adults are stuck living with parents, with an ex-partner, or with friends because they can’t afford to move out.
More people in the North of England struggle to afford their rent, while people in the South are more likely to face overcrowding or living with their parents because they can’t afford to move out.
Almost half (43%) can only afford to live decently if they are in social housing, which equates to 3.6 million people.
This is almost double the number on the government’s waiting list.
To meet the housing demand revealed today, the research found the country needs 340,000 new homes every year, including 145,000 social homes.
Nick Sanderson, chief executive, Audley Group, added: “This should be a wake-up call for our government to put some energy into housing policy.
“Don’t just build more houses, build the right houses. Give people access to properties that work for them, and free up those larger family homes that could then help others onto the housing ladder.”
Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, chief strategy officer of BLEND Network, a property investment platform that channels funding into affordable housing, said that a lack of funding is a key factor, but other options must be explored.
She said: “We should in addition be thinking of new ways that private capital can be committed to help build the low-cost houses that the UK so urgently needs.
“There are a limited number of social housing REITS but we should be far more ambitious in scope with regard to efforts to channel much-needed private sector funding into low-cost house building.
“We recently conducted research into the issue and have drawn up a policy package of new measures, including tax breaks for individuals who lend to accessible housing developers, ideas to encourage private pension holders to include such loans in their portfolios and allowing local authorities to allocate funding for housebuilding through more innovative alternative finance platforms.
“We believe such measures would give a significant boost to the funding available for low-cost housebuilding and help address the housing crisis, one of the most serious issues the country faces.”