History of Social Housing

Providing homes and accommodation to those who need them has rightly been a priority in our country for 100 years.

Mass building of council houses started in around 1920, in order to replace older and dilapidated properties.

This followed the 1919 Housing Act – also known as the ‘Addison’ Act – which was passed to allow the building of new houses for our heroes after World War One.

Some local authority or municipal housing was provided before 1914. Indeed, social housing in Plymouth pre-dates the Housing Act, and some of the oldest homes in Plymouth can be found in Armada Street, Laira Bridge Road, Looe Street and How Street, close to the Barbican.

Although the 1930s saw a period of depression in the UK, there was also a large number of new homes being built alongside the new railway lines and a rise in owner occupancy. By 1933, 500,000 council houses had been built, but they were still considered too expensive for those most in need.

At the end of the Second World War, the UK was in the middle of a major housing crisis, leading the Government to prioritise social housing and order the construction of more than 150,000 temporary prefabricated properties – and over the next 20 years, that number would rise considerably.

Around 1.3 million new homes were built between 1965 and 1970. To encourage home ownership, the Government introduced the Option Mortgage Scheme (1968), which made low-income house buyers eligible for subsidies (equivalent to tax relief on mortgage interest payments).

Since the 1970s, non-profit housing associations have been operating an increasing share of social housing properties in the UK.

In 1997 and 1998, a little more than £4billion was spent on social housing and during this time, the Government continued the transfer of social housing to non-profit housing associations and by 2010, almost one million council homes had been transferred.

Since the early 1990s, governments have encouraged ‘mixed tenure’ in regeneration areas and on ‘new-build’ housing estates, offering a range of ownership and rental options, with a view to engineering social harmony through including social housing and affordable housing options.

Plymouth Community Homes remains at the forefront of social housing, providing 16,000 properties to 35,000 people.