Poor Social Housing Conditions Have Been A Problem For 30 Or 40 Years, Says Archbishop Of Canterbury

Poor social housing conditions have been a problem for 30 or 40 years and the government, councils and housing associations face a “considerable uphill battle” to solve the issue, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Speaking in an ITV interview on Tuesday, Justin Welby said the poor housing conditions faced by some social housing tenants, which have recently been highlighted as part of an ongoing investigation by the broadcaster, were “tragically familiar”.

When asked about his response to ITV’s investigation, which showed conditions including extreme mould and disrepair, he said he had a “tragic sense of familiarity from places I’d worked, from routine visits for funerals”.

“This has been going on for 30 or 40 years,” he added.

The archbishop said: “It’s not just a government issue; it needs housing associations, government, local government, landowners. We need a revolution in social housing and affordable housing.”

In 2019, the Church of England launched a commission to identify ways it can help tackle the housing crisis.

Last year, the commission published a report that included a number of recommendations, most notably that the church should make more use of its land to deliver affordable housing.

In yesterday’s ITV interview, the archbishop said one member of the commission “spent a whole night weeping” after seeing the conditions one social housing tenant was exposed to.

When asked what hope he has that the government, councils, housing associations and private landlords will act and that “something might shift”, he said it is a “considerable uphill struggle” and that the problem could take 10 years to solve.

He said: “I know one or two people in government said, ‘Oh good, the church can take some of the burden’. Cynicism. We’ve got to get over the cynicism.

“We need people who say, ‘In politics, my life’s ambition is to deal with that – I want to be the person who goes down in the history books as having made a difference on this in my local government or at national level’.