Social housing has provided decent, affordable homes for millions of people over the past 150 years .
Starting with 19th-century philanthropists like George Peabody and Joseph Rowntree, over 5 million council and housing association homes have been built over the past 150 years, providing safe, secure and affordable homes for millions of families.
Over the past 40 years social rented housing has been attacked and denigrated by many, and relegated to tenure of last resort. Its occupants are stigmatised by parts of the media as scroungers and workshy layabouts. Instead of investment in bricks and mortar, governments have increasingly subsidised rising rents rather than affordable homes.
The social rented sector has shrunk considerably over the last 30 years.
In 1981 councils and housing associations owned 5.2 million rented homes in England; by 2012, this had fallen to 4,000,000, mainly as a result of homes being sold under the right to buy and not replaced. The receipts have often been used to prop up public spending elsewhere, rather than replacing each home sold with a new one. The boost to owner occupation or home ownership brought about by the right to buy is also unwinding. Many sold homes have now been recycled in the buy-to-let market and many private tenants claim housing benefit, and are paid a much higher average level of benefit than if the property had remained in social ownership.
SHOUT (Social Housing Under Threat) was formed in January 2014 to make the case for investment in genuinely affordable, socially-rented homes and demonstrate the positive effects that social housing has on people and communities.
If no one stands up to support social housing, it could disappear altogether over the long term and the country, in our view, would be a poorer, and less civilised place.