Life

Six Graphs That Show How Screwed England's Housing Market Is

The private renting sector has become more overcrowded, social housing stock hasn't risen in ten years and more old people are renting.
28 January 2020, 10:49am
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Every year, the government runs a survey on England's 23.5 million households. This study pulls information on the condition of our homes, how many spare bedrooms we have, the percentage of renters and more, giving a picture of how people of all ages live their lives.

Ultimately, this year's survey paints a picture we already know quite well: the private rented sector is hard to escape, cramped and often not very high quality, while there's a woeful lack of stock in the social housing sector.

Here's everything we learnt.

1: Owner Occupation Rates Remain Unchanged for the Sixth Year in a Row

Source: Annual English Housing Survey.

The number of people living in the house they own hasn't changed for six years, which is likely a reflection of how challenging it is – particularly for younger generations – to get on the housing ladder. The percentage grew gradually during the 1980s and peaked in 2003, at 71 percent, before declining to the 64 percent it's on now, and hasn't changed since 2013/14.

2. The Proportion of Households in the Private Rented Sector Also Remains Unchanged for the Sixth Year in a Row

In the last year, "the private rented sector accounted for 4.6 million or 19 percent of households", according to the survey. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was only 10 percent. The sector has doubled in size in 2002, but hasn't changed dramatically since 2013/14.

3. The Proportion of Households in the Social Rented Sector Has Not Changed for More Than a Decade

Source: Annual English Housing Survey.

A depressing one! No surprises here that, after a decade of Conservative rule, and despite a huge housing crisis and rising levels of poverty, there has been no overall change in social housing in ten years.

The social rented sector currently makes up 4 million households and represents the smallest sector of housing after a "long downward trend" that has "stabilised over the last decade or so". The percentage of people renting from local authorities has fallen – from 10 percent in 2008/9 to 7 percent now – while the percentage in private "renting associations" has risen.

4. Over the Last Decade, the Proportion of People Aged 55 to 64 Living in the Rented Sectors Has Increased

Source: Annual English Housing Survey.

This may be due to the fact that the age at which people can afford to buy a house has risen, and continues to rise. Ten percent of 55 to 64-year-olds live in the rented sector, compared to 7 percent in 2008/9.

5. In the Last 20 Years, Overcrowding Has Increased in the Rented Sectors , and Remains at the Highest Rate It Has Ever Been in the Social Rented Sector

Source: Annual English Housing Survey.

In an era in which estate agents try to fob off large bathrooms as "studio flats" to earn landlords an extra £700 a month, it's no wonder overcrowding has increased. In terms of social housing, the bedroom tax – which penalises social tenants for having a spare room – will have most likely contributed to the overcrowding, not to mention the woeful number of properties available.

6. After More Than a Decade of Decline, the Proportion of 25 to 34-Year-Olds in Owner Occupation Has Increased, and There Are Now Almost Equal Proportions of 25 to 34-Year-Olds Living in the Private Rented and Owner Occupied Sectors

Source: Annual English Housing Survey.

On the surface, this seems like a good thing. Great! A generation restricted from owning homes is finally getting a chance to buy one. However, there are different factors at play here.

Sam Hurst, a spokesperson at the renting website OpenRent, tells me there could be many factors leading to young people becoming homeowners that don't necessarily mean it's easier to buy a house: "It's important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Is the percentage of owner-occupiers going up in this age group because more young people are staying with their parents for longer, because they are unable to afford even to rent?"

"It is important to ask at what cost people are buying, too," he adds. "If young people are now beginning to buy more, but it's because banks are now offering even larger mortgages, for even longer terms, then is this actually a good thing? Or are we just inflating house prices even further with easy credit?"

This could also just be down to rich grandparents finally dying: "Finally, is this uptick caused simply by demographics as opposed to deliberate policy? I.e. are the boomer generation, the over-65s who own £1.6 trillion in property, now dying and leaving wealthy young people money to buy, or homes to live in, while those without wealthy grandparents are left in less desirable forms of tenure?"

So yes, great!

@RubyJLL