The Chartered Institute of Housing and Shelter raise concerns about ‘scapegoating policy ideas’

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) head of policy and external affairs has referred to the government’s reported plan to give British people priority access to social housing as a “scapegoating policy idea”.


Housing bodies have criticised the government’s reported plans to introduce a “British homes for British workers” policy

This was in response to reports in the Guardian that the government plans to launch a consultation in the coming weeks to look at how they can give British citizens faster access to social housing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said such a policy would be “scapegoating at its worst”, stating that the concept is “unnecessary, unenforceable and unjust”.

Neate added that the policy ignores that “there are already stringent rules so only UK citizens or those with settled status can access homes for social rent”.

“This is nothing but blaming a group of people for a housing emergency they did not create”, she added.

The plans have not been officially confirmed or denied by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The contentious scheme will reportedly be branded “British homes for British workers”.

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Under current housing rules, local authorities allocate social housing based on a points-based or banding system, giving priority to those who are homeless or urgently need rehousing due to overcrowding.

For a non-British citizen to qualify for social housing, they must have settled status under the EU settlement scheme, be a refugee or have indefinite leave to remain and be able to claim state benefits.

According to government statistics on local authority-owned lettings, in 1981/2 English local authorities owned just over 404,000 social homes, while in 2021/22, the total number of social homes for let had fallen to 88,600.

Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive, Gavin Smart, commented: “It’s hard to comment on speculative policy but we’re concerned that the focus here is in the wrong place.

“We’ve currently got 1.4 million people on the social housing waiting list and it’s growing by the day. Homelessness is at record levels and councils are struggling with the cost of rising temporary accommodation. We urgently need to increase the supply of social rented homes – that means building more and reducing the loss generated by policies such as right to buy.

“Further rationing of an already scarce resource does not address this. And with government data showing that 90 per cent of new lettings in social housing go to UK nationals it’s questionable whether the new approach suggested would achieve its intended aims.

“We would urge the government to focus efforts on housing solutions to boost supply. We’re committed to working with them on this – building on our collective calls for a genuine long-term plan for housing.”

DLUHC declined to comment.