Around 84,000 fewer homes could be delivered in England this year due to the impact of coronavirus, according to estimates published by housing charity Shelter.
The projection, which has been taken from research carried out by Savills, includes existing properties converted into homes as well as new properties being built.
It would mean overall output falling from around 255,000 last year to 171,000 homes in the financial year 2020/21.
Under a “worst-case scenario”, the report suggests that as many as 318,000 new homes could potentially be lost over the next five years.
The research suggested an initial dip in house-building would be due to necessary social distancing on building sites reducing capacity.
Further decreases could potentially be triggered by reduced demand during a protracted recession.
Shelter said it wants the Government to fast-track spending on homes under the Affordable Homes Programme to help plug the gaps.
Chief executive Polly Neate said: “As the Government prepares a major push on infrastructure and investment, it has a perilously short window to avert a lengthy house-building crash that will wipe out tens of thousands of new homes and jobs. By bringing forward planned spending and building social housing, the Government has the chance to avert disaster.
“There are over a million households on social housing waiting lists, and even more likely to join them as the recession bites – making the case for social homes self-evident.”
Shelter’s report was released as a separate survey from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that a fifth (21%) of people are worried they will not be able to afford their rent or mortgage in the future.
Nearly a fifth (19%) said they have been unable to save during most weeks since the UK entered lockdown. This rises to a quarter (25%) of renters.
The think-tank is proposing a “living rent”, with rent levels linked to average local incomes, rather than to rents charged in the market.
The IPPR said living rent homes could be aimed initially at key workers such as nurses, shop workers and cleaners, who do not necessarily qualify for social housing, but struggle with high housing costs in the private rented sector and have no immediate prospect of buying their own home.
Research fellow Jonathan Webb said: “Building more social housing whilst also ensuring rents are linked more closely to incomes will help ensure we have enough homes that are genuinely affordable.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spokeswoman said more new homes were delivered across England last year than at any point in the past 30 years.
She said: “Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this Government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.
“That’s why we’re rethinking the planning system from first principles and spending £12 billion on affordable housing from 2021, the biggest cash investment in a decade.”
David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said: “Housing must be a central part of the national recovery from coronavirus. Now is the time for a genuine renaissance in council house-building that reduces homelessness, gets rough sleepers off the streets for good, supports people’s wellbeing and is climate-friendly.
“Giving councils the powers and tools to deliver a programme of 100,000 social homes a year would not only meet a third of the Government’s annual house-building target, but it would generate a range of social and economic benefits, including reducing the housing benefit bill and alleviating pressures on health and social care that result from poor housing conditions.”