April 22, 2024

Building social housing could add £50 billion to the economy, report finds

BUILDING social housing is a “win-win” that could end the homeless emergency and relieve strains on the NHS while generating billions for the economy, a report published today has found.

A study by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and homeless charity Shelter says that more than £50 billion could be added to the economy by building 90,000 social homes. 

It predicts that investment in social housing could directly support nearly 140,000 jobs in the first year, and that within three years it will have paid for itself.

Within that time it could return £37.8bn to the economy, mainly in the construction sector, the report says, calling it a “win-win solution.”

It adds that the new social homes would save on housing benefit — £4.5bn over 30 years, according to the report — and also alleviate costs for the NHS caused by poor conditions and save money through reducing homelessness.

NHF chief executive Kate Henderson said: “This research shows not only that the housing crisis can be solved, but that this can be done in a way that will save the taxpayer money, boost jobs and bring huge benefits to the wider economy.”

The report comes as the NHF, along with 37 homeless organisations, services and partners signed a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warning that they are facing a dire situation.

They call on Mr Hunt to “release funding in the upcoming spring Budget to help services stay afloat.

“More and more people are being pulled into homelessness without the support of expert service providers to turn to, at huge risk to their physical and mental health and placing significant extra strain on emergency and health services,” it said.

In a poll by Homeless Link of 120 homeless accommodation providers, two-thirds said that their services were no longer financially viable “due to lack of inflationary increases in commissioned and grant-funded projects.”

Another 36 per cent have already reduced their services to meet financial pressures and 41 per cent risk having to close their services soon.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: “Homelessness is a political choice with a simple solution.

“Building 90,000 social homes a year will not only end the housing emergency but, due to the wider economic benefits it brings, it will pay for itself within just three years.”

The government has been contacted for comment.

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