Why social housing matters

Headline from today's i

Vicky Spratt draws on her family's experience to explain why council housing was a good thing.

"All parties came to have a clear focus on state-funded housebuilding in this “golden age”. Between 1939 and 1953, 1.3 million council homes were built. By 1961, another million had been added. Social housing was a national asset, both because it was state-owned and because it benefited society, empowering people with secure, healthy homes.

There is nothing more radical. Instability begets instability. When a person lives in chaos they are usually oppressed by forces beyond their control – unstable work, homelessness, financial stress. Social housing allows people not merely to survive but to build their lives."

To understand the crisis in private renting today, we must understand the impact of the political decision to systematically dismantle municipal housing by selling off social homes.

At the end of the seventies, more than 40% of us were living in council houses, by 2016-18 it was 17%. A consequence of Right to Buy (just 5% of the 2.6 million former council homes sold through the scheme have been replaced) and the introduction of Section 21 evictions are a leading cause of homelessness.

The quotes are from an edited excerpt in the i from ‘Tenants: The People on the Frontline of Britain’s Housing Emergency’ by Vicky Spratt, released on 19 May (£20, Profile) 

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