THE housing charity, Shelter, this week called for 100,000 new homes to be built every year and for a cut in mortgage tax relief to homeowners..
Shelter, of which Cardinal Hume is a patron, estimates in a report* marking its 20th birthday, that 1.2 million homes in Britain are unfit for humans.
The report details high levels of overcrowding, decaying buildings and homelessness. It condemns Government commitment to homeownership as an inadequate solution, because the poverty of those without homes will not create the demand which private sector building can respond to.
It also urges a move away from bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless in favour of housebuilding programmes.
Shelter comments: "In London alone in 1985-6 councils paid out the staggering sum of £26 million for bed and breakfast accommodation."
The charity's investment plan is that 40,000 houses should be built by housing associations and 60,000 by councils. It also wants a doubling of spending on repairs and improvements.
"This investment programme would double public sector investment in housing to around £7,750 million a year" after four year's expansion, estimates Shelter.
This level of spending would be needed for up to 20 years, it claims, and could be funded from £6 billion worth of capital receipts from the sale of council houses.
"For a net cost of £500 million, 12,500 new homes could be built and 60,000 properties renovated-, say the authors of the report.
The other major recommendation is that mortgage interest relief should be restricted to the basic rate of tax only. The charity estimates that 60 per cent of government expenditure on housing is spent on subsidising homeowners.
Shelter also wants improved rights of tenure of tenants and the outlawing of racial harassment.
*Homes Above All, f1.95 from Shelter, 157 Waterloo Rd, London SEl.