Latest government figures show the impact soaring house prices are having on living conditions
New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in 2011, home ownership fell for the first time in almost a century.
In 2011, 69 per cent of households in England and Wales were owner-occupied, compared to 64 per cent a decade later. Meanwhile, the proportion of privately rented households has grown from 12 per cent to 18 per cent of the housing market.
The age of renters has gone down, with almost nine in 10 HRPs (Household Reference Persons) aged 16-24 renting their home, compared with less than a quarter of those aged 65-74. Renters were also less likely to be in work, with 7 per cent unemployed compared to just 1 per cent of homeowners.
Commenting on the findings, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Successive governments have not made housing a high enough policy priority. As a result we now have the most expensive and dysfunctional housing system in Europe, with millions of people living in often sub-standard private rented accommodation.
“A generation of young people face the prospect of never owning their own home. There are no longer any areas in the South of England where average house prices are less than five times the average wage.”
Worryingly, the ONS also found that one in 20 UK households were overcrowded, based on the number of people compared to the number of bedrooms. In London that figure was 1 in 10, or 11 per cent – more than twice the level of overcrowding seen in the West Midlands, the region with the second highest level.
In the borough of Newham, a quarter of households were overcrowded. Overcrowding is associated with a range of health conditions including stress and depression, respiratory problems and increased transmission of infections.
The huge cost of renting in the capital is likely to be the reason that the problem is so much worse there than in the rest of England and Wales.
The incidence of overcrowding also varied between ethnic groups, with around 30 per cent of Bangladeshi households listed as overcrowded compared to less than 5 per cent of white British.
It is possible for people in overcrowded homes to apply for social housing, but there are long waiting lists and the stock is due to be depleted even further by the extension of Right to Buy.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.