More than 150,000 of the most affordable rented homes have been lost across England in just five years, new research has revealed.
The analysis of government figures by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found 103,642 local authority homes and 46,972 housing association homes for social rent have been lost between 2012 and 2017.
Most of the losses were down to social homes being converted to 'affordable rent' or bring sold through right to buy.
Based on current trends, the CIH predicts that loss will reach 230,000 homes by 2020, confirming the 'urgent need' for more genuinely affordable housing.
Chief executive of CIH Terrie Alafat said: 'For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent. It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.'
She added that government investment was 'heavily skewed' towards the private market. 'Our analysis shows that 79% of the housing budget up to 2020/21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing.
'Rebalancing this budget, so that more money is spent on affordable homes, could make a big difference.'
The CIH is also calling for councils to be able to retain all the money raised though right to buy.