The 'Homes for All' policy

The Labour Government was keen to improve housing, and this was part of their attack on the 'giant' of squalor.

Why was this needed?

Bombing during World War Two was estimated to have destroyed 500,000 homes and many were left badly damaged, especially in cities like Coventry and London. Many houses needed modernisation, for example 500,000 homes did not have an indoor toilet in 1950.

The Government attempted to solve these issues by building over 1.2 million new homes between 1946 and 1951. Four out of the five houses were council houses built by the local councils, to be rented by families. 156,623 prefabricated houses, known as prefabs, were built in some areas. These were a quick solution to the housing shortage.

A group of men lower a prefabricated house into place as a crowd of children look on.
A prefab estate being erected, 1946

The 1946 New Towns Act authorised the building of new towns at places such as Stevenage and Harlow in England, and Cwmbran in Wales, to reduce overcrowding in the cities.

Was the 'Homes for All' policy a success or failure?

Success

  • The new towns helped to relieve the potential issue of overcrowding.
  • Over 800,000 new homes were built between 1946 and 1951.
  • Some slums were demolished and many houses were improved by the addition of indoor bathrooms and hot water.

Failure

  • By 1951, there was still a shortage of new houses built for sale.
  • There were still waiting lists in urban areas in the early 1950s.
  • Some people had negative attitudes to the prefabricated houses.