What Is Social Housing?

What Is Social Housing?

Social Housing

Renting is on the rise.

In 2003, 70.9% of UK households owned a home – an all-time high. This has fallen to 63.9% overall, with only 41% of those aged 25 to 34 owning their own homes. A lot of this comes down to a severe lack of affordable- and moderately- priced housing options. This has led to an increase in renting. But as many of us are all too well aware, even renting can be challenging from a financial standpoint.

Data from Zoopla shows that UK residents pay almost £1000 per month; between 2015 and 2021, there was a 12% jump. If only wages kept up. The annual pay growth for regular pay in 2022 was just 4.7%. Given the rampant inflation and rising prices for everything from groceries to petrol, many incomes just cannot keep up. This is where social housing comes in.

What Is Social Housing?

Social housing is a plan that intends to offer lower-cost rental solutions through not-for-profit housing associations or the local council. As a tenant, you rent from the association or council, which serves as your landlord. The benefit is that it is most often less expensive than private rental options, and it can offer more protection from eviction if one should fall behind on rent.

The idea behind social housing is that it should be:

Affordable. By linking rents to incomes, more people can access affordable housing options in the UK. As mentioned, rents are typically significantly lower than private rentals, and the government limits increase in rates.

Accessible. Ideally, social housing is available for anyone who needs it. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Over a million households are on waiting lists as there is an ongoing shortage of social housing options.

Stable. Housing security is a major issue, and this is a major aim with social options. They should have greater protection against eviction as well as clear rights to housing in which they can live comfortably and as part of the community.

Quality-Controlled. Social homes often have a stigma, but they should meet every standard for decent, clean housing. Often, they are more efficient, better insulated and include basic protections (e.g. smoke and CO alarms).

“Should be” doesn’t always equate to “is.” Still, when done in accordance with the program’s aims, social housing solutions offer residents a safe, comfortable and affordable option.

Do You Qualify?

Do you qualify for social housing? You may; your local council will have criteria in regards to who is eligible for social housing, as well as who receives priority. This is referred to as its “housing allocation policy.” At the very least, you need to be a British citizen, living in the UK, aged 18 or older or a citizen of another country with no restrictions on your right to stay in the UK.

People with the greatest need are given the highest priority. For example, if you are currently homeless or facing imminent homelessness, you will be given priority attention. This is also true if:

You are living in cramped, crowded accommodations
Your current home has triggered a medical condition

Otherwise, most councils base their decisions on a person or family’s needs in terms of income. Also taken into consideration may be:

Whether you are connected to the local area and/or have been living there for a specified period of time
Whether you are working in the area
If you are caring for someone who lives in the area

How do you apply? Visit gov.UK’s social housing page and enter your postcode. This will direct you to your area’s local council’s website. You can find a lot of helpful information, including directions on how to apply for social housing, as well as what type of documentation you will need.

Unfortunately, the need for social housing has outpaced the availability of units and homes for low-income people. There is a chronic shortage of affordable, accessible housing (even among those who are able to buy). The best step to take if you require assistance is to apply now and get on the waiting list. If your situation is quite severe, you may be given priority attention. If you need help applying, go to your local council’s website or call them to speak with a representative.