The end of the First World War in 1918 created a huge demand for working-class housing in towns throughout Britain. In 1919, Parliament passed the ambitious Housing Act which promised government subsidies to help finance the construction of 500,000 houses within three years. As the economy rapidly weakened in the early 1920s, however, funding had to be cut, and only 213,000 homes were completed under the Act’s provisions.
Homes fit for heroes
The 1919 Act - often known as the ‘Addison Act’ after its author, Dr Christopher Addison, the Minister of Health - was nevertheless a highly significant step forward in housing provision. It made housing a national responsibility, and local authorities were given the task of developing new housing and rented accommodation where it was needed by working people.
More council housing
Further Acts during the 1920s extended the duty of local councils to make housing available as a social service. The Housing Act of 1924 gave substantial grants to local authorities in response to the acute housing shortages of these years. A fresh Housing Act of 1930 obliged local councils to clear all remaining slum housing, and provided further subsidies to re-house inhabitants. This single Act led to the clearance of more slums than at any time previously, and the building of 700,000 new homes.
Under the provisions of the inter-war Housing Acts local councils built a total of 1.1 million homes.