As part of The Northern Echo's ongoing coverage and analysis of the North East's housing crisis,  two influential voices in the region - Lloyds Bank and believe housing - gave us their exclusive insight into the scale of the problem and the best ways forward.

Emily Cox, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for the North said their own research showed the shocking extent of the problem.

She told us: "Tonight, 130,000 children will be sleeping in temporary accommodation. That’s 130,000 without the security of a warm, affordable home and all that means for their health and life opportunities. That’s 130,000 too many.  

"There’s no answer to this problem that doesn’t involve increasing the supply of high-quality social housing.

"This is a topic particularly close to the hearts of people in the North East. Our research shows that 32% of people here see a lack of social housing as the single biggest challenge facing housing in this country.

"The number of people experiencing homelessness in the UK is rising. Research from our charity partner Crisis has revealed that nearly a quarter of a million households across England (242,000) are now experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. Much of this homelessness is hidden, and includes sleeping on the streets, spending night after night on friends’ and families' sofas or stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation like nightly paid B&Bs.

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"To help address this problem, we’ve joined with Crisis to campaign for one million additional social rent homes to be built over the next decade.

"Around 233,000 new homes were supplied in 2021-22, which falls well short of the 340,000 that estimates suggest are needed annually. When it comes to social housing, there’s a shortfall of around 100,000 new properties every year across the country.

"In 2021/22, there were only 7,500 new social homes built, and 21,600 were either sold or demolished. Nearly 1.5 million families across the country are stuck on social housing waiting lists.


People in the North East want policymakers and industry to respond with action that significantly increases the delivery of new social homes.


"These are challenging figures and many people aren’t aware of the scale of the problem. In fact, 71% of people in the North East overestimated how many social homes were built in the UK last year.

The Northern Echo: Emily CoxEmily Cox (Image: Press release)

"The declining availability of social housing has contributed to an increase in the number of people living in the private rented sector. In 2022, 44% of households assessed as being at risk of homelessness were renting privately, while social renters made up only 11%.

"Our research shows that there is widespread public support for building more social homes. We asked people for their views and 62% of people in the North East agree that social housing could help fix the housing crisis, while 74% believe the UK should build more homes for social rent, provided by councils or housing associations for people on lower incomes.

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"When we asked the general public who should be prioritised for social homes, many of those polled believed that it should go to homeless people and over a quarter (27%) said medics, firefighters and police should be prioritised on waiting lists. 

"People in the North East want policymakers and industry to respond with action that significantly increases the delivery of new social homes.

"At Lloyds Banking Group, we’re determined to play our part and we’ve provided around £16bn in new funding to Britain’s social housing sector since 2018. We’ve also partnered with Crisis to develop a brand new, not-for-profit lettings agency so that those on low incomes can access safe, affordable, quality housing.

"It’s clear people in the North East want change and policymakers must respond with action that significantly increases the delivery of new social homes - because everyone deserves to have a place to call home."

Over at believe - one of the North East’s biggest housing associations, managing more than 18,000 homes - Chief Executive Alan Smith told The Northern Echo its holistic approach was making a difference.

He said: "For us, providing homes is about much more than the bricks and mortar.  

"We are passionate about creating thriving, safe, and sustainable places and homes that people want to live in - where people can prosper. We offer extensive support to customers and communities as we seek to achieve our vision of  'life without barriers'. 

"Along with addressing people’s housing needs we want to be a cornerstone to communities and support improved health, educational attainment, the environment, and the local economy. 

"It is this holistic approach that makes social housing a vital component to addressing the country’s housing crisis. 

The Northern Echo: High quality social housingHigh quality social housing (Image: Press release)

"All believe housing’s homes for social rent are let through choice-based lettings schemes, mostly Durham Key Options, which assesses applicants’ level of housing need then enables them to bid for eligible properties in places they want to live. 

"Our existing stock and programme of new-build homes offer a range of housing types and tenures, including shared ownership and Rent to Buy to open up opportunities to home ownership. With rising homelessness and private rents unaffordable for many, we know that security of tenure is important to renters. 


Along with addressing people’s housing needs we want to be a cornerstone to communities and support improved health, educational attainment, the environment, and the local economy. 


"We work closely with applicants before they move in to make sure they are tenancy ready – ensuring less than 4 per cent of the 1,533 new tenancies in 2022-23 ended within a year. And almost 99 per cent of our tenants have the peace of mind of at least a three-year tenancy. 

"For believe housing customers, securing a home isn’t the end of the process. Our customers don’t simply sign the dotted line of a tenancy agreement and take their keys, never to see us again. To help customers maintain their tenancy and use it as a foundation to build a better life, anyone living in a believe housing home can tap into our expert support services at any time. 

The Northern Echo: Alan SmithAlan Smith (Image: Press release)

"In the last financial year, three-quarters of our customers made use of this support in some way. We supported customers to receive £1.5m in welfare benefits, helped 626 customers to reduce their rent arrears by £241,681, and supported 183 people into work. 

"We are there for customers who turn to us in times of crisis. Our safeguarding service supports victims of domestic abuse and those at risk of suicide, and deals with concerns relating to both children and adults.  

"Sadly, demands on this service are high, as customers find themselves under increasing pressures from the cost of living crisis.  

"As extensive as our support is, we cannot do it alone. We work closely with partners to ensure customers receive the wraparound or specialist help they need and we support and empower communities to address their own needs.  

"In 2022-23 we awarded £239,084 in community grants – which contributed to £3.3m of social value – supporting not-for-profit initiatives that are improving residents’ health and wellbeing, creating employability and training opportunities both directly and through our supply chain, increasing household incomes, and tackling inequalities resulting from the cost-of-living crisis. 

"In 2024 the North East Combined Authority will bring greater devolved powers to the region and there will almost certainly be a general election. Housing is an important issue for both. In such an important year, believe housing will continue to support customers and work with partners, such as fellow members of the new North East Housing Partnership, to advocate for our customers, our region and more social housing which can brings the wider social, environmental and economic outcomes our region deserves. "