Shelter has condemned Britain’s housing system as unaffordable, unfit, unstable and discriminatory – a situation made worse by benefit cuts and the pandemic.
The charity’s new report, Denied the Right to a Safe Home, highlights a housing emergency, reveals gross inequality in the housing system and calls on the government to build at least 90,000 good quality social homes a year.
Shelter’s survey of 13,000 people found that 23% are living in homes with significant damp, mould and condensation, or homes that they can’t keep warm in winter, while 8% report regularly cutting back on essential items, such as food and heating, to pay their housing costs.
Another 8% fear losing or being asked to leave their current home – largely driven by private renters who live in the least secure housing.
The research found that race, disability, sexuality and socio-economic status are all barriers to a safe home. Black people are 70% more likely to be impacted by the housing emergency than white people and Asian people are 50% more likely.
Shelter says 54% of people with a significant disability don’t have a safe or secure home, compared with 30% of those without a disability.
Chief executive Polly Neate (main picture) says decades of neglect have left Britain’s housing system on its knees.
“Lives are being ruined by benefit cuts, blatant discrimination and the total failure to build social homes,” says Neate.
“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.
“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.”