Majority of public would back next government borrowing to build more affordable homes

More than half of the English public would support the next government borrowing money to build more affordable homes, according to a recent poll.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), found that 54% of adults in England would support government borrowing to fund more affordable homes for people to buy or rent.

A fifth (21%) were opposed while a quarter (24%) said they would neither support nor oppose.

Support was strongest among renters and people living in London, with 60% and 66% respectively backing government borrowing for affordable housing.

The poll was carried out at the end of March.

CIH head of policy Melanie Rees said: “There is a desperate shortage of affordable homes across the country which is being felt by millions of people – from the ‘clipped wing’ generation stuck living with mum and dad to families putting up with poor conditions in parts of the private rented sector, people stuck on the waiting list for social housing and homeless people trapped in poor quality B&Bs.

“So it’s no surprise that a majority of the public would support the next government borrowing money to build more affordable homes.  We need a long-term plan to end the housing crisis in a generation – and the lesson of history is that we have only built the number of homes we need when the government has played a direct and active role.

“Investing in housing not only helps those who are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford, it also makes long-term economic sense – the most sustainable way of bringing the housing benefit bill down is to build more homes.  And it offers an excellent return on investment, creating jobs and boosting economic growth.”

Ben Marshall, research director at Ipsos MORI, said: “Other Ipsos MORI polls have shown the public recognises the housing crisis and wants government action, especially on affordability and supply. This survey shows a majority instinctively back borrow-to-build, but we should appreciate the possibility that support could be conditional on its extent and implications.”

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