Row of Typical English Terraced Houses at London.


The UK faces a desperate housing crisis. We need to build at least 340,000 homes per year – and of that at least 150,000 good quality social rented homes – as we are not building enough homes to meet demand.

The Housing Crisis

This acute shortage of housing, particularly social and genuinely affordable housing, has led to spiralling rents and house prices across the country.

Many young people and families on low to middle incomes struggle to afford to rent or buy a decent home.

Overcrowding, evictions, rent arrears and homelessness are all on the rise.

We’re concerned about:

  • The lack of appropriate government funding to invest in social rented homes;
  • The lack of skills or capacity in council housing departments to build new homes;
  • the dramatic reduction in the supply of social and genuinely affordable housing through policies such as the Right to Buy;
  • the 1.1m households on social housing waiting lists;
  • the impact of austerity and cuts to housing services and jobs;
  • the lack of effective regulation in the private rented sector;
  • the high costs of renting and homeownership;
  • the poor quality of some homes in both the social and private rented sectors and how this affects the well-being of tenants;
  • and the effects of housing benefit cuts on vulnerable people who struggle to meet their housing costs.

We’re calling on the government to take urgent action to invest in a national house building programme to increase the supply of all types of housing, particularly social rented homes, as well as action to improve the affordability, accessibility, security, safety and quality of housing across all sectors.

Housing Affordability Tool

High private rents and house prices have priced public service workers out of housing. Our online tool highlights that ordinary working people are getting a raw deal. Share The Great Housing Rip-Off with your friends and family. And email your MP to demand something changes.

Find out when you’ll be able to afford a home

UNISON’s Housing Campaign

We believe the government has a duty to ensure people living in the UK have decent, secure, stable, safe and affordable homes to live in. That’s why we campaign for economic policies that will help our members on modest incomes. We are also concerned about the particular challenges faced by young workers who have to put up with high rents, poor quality accommodation and insecurity in private renting.

Our housing campaign aims to:

  • Raise housing high up the political agenda
  • Provide analysis of the implications of the housing crisis on public service workers and citizens
  • Provide a forum for balanced policy debate; and provide alternatives and solutions to the housing crisis
  • Act as a clear voice calling for urgent government action to tackle the housing crisis
  • Highlight the crucial role of councils and housing associations in providing homes for people on modest incomes
  • Campaign for a significant increase in funding to invest in genuinely affordable homes
  • Highlight the need for a properly functioning housing market where supply meets demand and workers can afford to live in homes near their places of work
  • Promote the economic benefits of house-building and the need to invest in and build more housing across all tenures, especially social housing
  • Support the TUC’s call for a moratorium on Right to Buy sales
  • Highlight the need for improved housing choices for people looking for a home, with a wider mix of genuinely affordable and social housing options, independent housing advice and an end to the idea that home ownership is the only game in town
  • Campaign for a system of rent controls and better regulation of the private rented sector to drive up standards
  • Highlight the effects of welfare reforms on vulnerable people
  • Highlight the need for an improved redress, consumer and regulatory system across all housing tenures to raise standards and to empower tenants to hold landlords to account when things go wrong

Our members in housing

UNISON is the largest trade union in the UK that represents people who work in housing. Approximately 100,000 members are employed by local councils and housing associations, delivering a range of services, including administering housing benefit, managing homes, housing-related social care, housing advice, repair work and administrative support.

We represent members from the workplace up to government and industry bodies, such as the National Housing Federations (NHF, WFHA, SFHA and NIFHA) and housing regulators, including Homes England.

Whether it’s pay negotiations or government policy, UNISON is the independent voice of the housing worker. That gives us a unique knowledge of the issues affecting tenants, potential tenants and people working in housing.

Campaign Partners

We work with campaign partners to call on the government to solve the housing crisis. They include:


Generation Rent

The Affordable Housing Commission

Inside Housing’s End Cladding Scandal

Defend Council’s Homes for All Campaign

UNISON’s Housing Manifesto

Safe, Decent and Affordable Homes for All’ is UNISON’s vision for housing. Our Housing Manifesto examines the housing crisis and outlines solutions.

Read more