Today in the fifth richest country in the world, millions of working class families and individuals suffer chronic overcrowding, damp rooms, faulty heating systems or lack central heating or hot water, have no double glazing and/or broken windows, electrical faults and exposed live wiring, leaky plumbing, unsanitary and even outside toilets and, in more and more properties, infestations of rodents and insects.
According to government figures the number of new homes built for social rent in Britain has fallen by almost four-fifths in the past decade. This shocking state of affairs has developed as 1.25 million families on council waiting lists must reside in temporary and substandard accommodation.
Around two-thirds of those awaiting housing have been on the council waiting lists for at least 12 months. On average every English local authority has more than 3,500 families awaiting housing.
In Britain, homes for social rent are usually provided by local councils, housing associations and charities.
The data released by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government exposes how only 6,463 homes were built in England for social rent in 2017-18. These figures are substantially down from what was even then an already near post-war record low of just 30,000 a decade ago. At this rate it would take at least 170 years to build enough to house those currently homeless.
Housing campaigners have pertinently asked regarding so-called affordable housing—affordable for who exactly?—and criticised the term affordable in these circumstances as a form of Orwellian newspeak. The rent rates for social rental properties take into account local incomes, as well as house prices, unlike the criteria for affordable housing.
The number of so-called affordable rent properties built has increased since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government came to power in 2011, inversely over the same period the number of social rent properties has declined. Approximately 57 percent of all new affordable homes built last year were for affordable rent, with only 14 percent for social rent. The rest are intermediate affordable housing, which includes shared ownership properties and affordable home ownership schemes.
Housing provision for working class families has declined precipitously since its peak in the 1970s, when almost half the population of Scotland and cities like Sheffield lived in accommodation rented from the local authority. The number of council homes in Britain has halved over recent decades and is now at its lowest level since the late 1960s.