United Kingdom

Unmet housing need

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • In 2010/11, the number of affordable housing completions from Homes & Communities Agency funded programmes was around 56,000 dwellings.  This figure is much higher than a few years ago, with the average between 1999/00 and 2004/05 being around 30,000 dwellings a year.  It is, however, still much lower than the equivalent figure in the mid-1990s.
  • The 2004 Barker review, Review of housing supply, sponsored by HM Treasury, concluded that around 48,000 new social housing dwellings were required each year to keep up with demographic trends.  At 56,000, the amount of new social dwellings in 2010/11 was well above this level.  Because of the substantial shortfall between 1997/98 and 2006/07, however, the total cumulative shortfall since 1997/98 compared to the Barker target has been around 120,000 dwellings.
  • The 48,000 Barker estimate is only concerned with newly arising need and effectively makes no provision for reducing the backlog of unmet need (her second target of 54,000 also only provides for a reduction in the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation).  As estimated in Barker, and updated by Shelter, this backlog is considerable, comprising around a million households in various circumstances.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

In recent years it has become clear that there is a large and growing shortage of housing available to those on low incomes.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows, for each year, the number of new Registered Social Landlord (RSL) dwellings completed/acquired, with the data divided into whether the housing is for low cost home ownership or renting.  The figures exclude transfers from local authorities.  For comparison purposes, the graph also shows the annual amount of new social housing needed to keep up with demographic change.

The data sources for the first graph are:

  • 2008/09 onwards: the Homes and Communities Agency annual reports (excludes property and regeneration completions).
  • 2006/07 to 2007/08: Housing Corporation annual reports.
  • Earlier years: the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG’s) evidence to the Select Committee review entitled The supply of rented housing.
  • The annual amount of new social housing needed to keep up with demographic change: section 5 of a 2004 report entitled Review of housing supply commissioned by the Government from Kate Barker.

The data relates to England.  In addition to the figures shown a relatively small number of new ‘affordable’ dwellings each year are provided without central government funding, primarily as part of S106 planning agreements, or by housing associations re-investing capital receipts from shared ownership sales, but consistent annual figures on these additions are not available.

Whilst the first graph is largely about newly arising need, the second graph is about backlog.  It shows Shelter’s estimates of the number of existing households who require new ‘sub-market housing’, with the data broken down into the categories used in the Barker report.  ‘Sub-market housing’ is a phrase used by Barker to describe housing which, for cost reasons, has to be provided by the social sector, either via social rented accommodation or low cost home ownership.  The data is from table 4 of Shelter’s 2005 report entitled Building for the future: 2005 update.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The data on new dwellings is factual but there is not necessarily a strict on-to-one relationship between this housing and that required to keep up with demographic change.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Increase long-term housing supply and affordability

Lead department

Department for Communities and Local Government

Official national targets

Increase the number of net additional homes provided per annum to 240,000 by 2016.

Increase the number of gross affordable homes provided per annum to 70,000 by 2010-11 including 45,000 social homes.

Halve the number of households in temporary accommodation to 50,500 households by 2010.

By March 2011, 80% of local planning authorities to have adopted the necessary Development Plan Documents, in accordance with their agreed Local Development Scheme.

Other indicators of progress

Trends in affordability.

Efficiency rating of new homes.

Previous 2004 targets

Achieve a better balance between housing availability and the demand for housing, including improving affordability. in all English regions while protecting valuable countryside around our towns, cities and in the green belt and the sustainability of towns and cities.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year Thousands
For renting For low cost home ownership
1990/0121 3
1991/9227 4
1992/9358 10
1993/94 48 15
1994/95 50 18
1995/96 53 18
1996/97 41 15
1997/9835 11
1998/99 33 9
1999/0029 5
2000/01 26 5
2001/02 26 4
2002/03 23 4
2003/04 21 8
2004/05 19 11
2005/0621 16
2006/0723 18
2007/0830 22
2008/0928 20
2009/1031 22
2010/1137 19
The estimated figure for the amount of new social housing needed to keep up with demographic change is 48,000 per year.

Graph 2

Figures are as shown in the graph.