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.”

Download the Shelter report.


  1. Yet again Shelter complaining about the housing shortage whilst adding to the problem.

    How many people do Shelter provide shelter for ?

    Shelter’s continual narrative that landlords are all money grabbing rogues providing poor quality housing at high prices whilst tenants are all hard done by soul’s that always pay their rent and look after the properties they’re in polarises the situation to no-ones benefit.

    If Polly wants to really help she needs to focus on a balanced debate to support all parts of the housing market. Yes we need more homes being built, we also need a PRS that works for all .

  2. 85% of mould is down to condensation and how tenants use (or misuse) the property. In particular, poorer households tend not to use heating much and do not properly ventilate because doing so would require the heating to be used more. But, as usual, Shelter take a statistic that is far more more nuanced and use it as evidence of poor housing conditions.

    Great example is one of my flats where for years I had no problems, but a recent tenant was drying the washing in his flat, barely running the heating and keeping the windows shut because it would be cold keeping a small window ajar to allow fresh air to circulate and then complained of black mould. I told him it had never been a problem before but he still blamed the flat. Now, I provide all my tenants with an information sheet on black mould and how to prevent it.

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