UK homeownership slumps to lowest level in 24 years, and the South West suffers severe drops since 2001
The dream of homeownership is dying in Britain, undoing a century of social progress, according to a report by the HomeOwners Alliance, a new organisation championing those who own and want to own their own home
November 16, 2012 | post last updated on November 21st, 2017
The key findings are:
- UK homeownership in long-term decline
- Owner occupation rate peaked in 2002 at 69.7% in UK, has fallen to 64.7%
- The gains of the 1990s in the South West have been lost – the homeownership rate has fallen from 74.8% to 70.2% in the last decade
- The ‘homeownership gap’ – the difference between those who want to own but can’t – has hit 5 million
- UK homeownership ranks in bottom 11 in EU, below Portugal, Ireland and Bulgaria
The report, Death of a Dream – The Crisis in Homeownership, uses unpublished government data to reveal that home ownership in the UK peaked 10 years ago, before sliding to a point where a generation of young people face being locked out of the housing market for good. (See notes to editor)
London has been worst affected, with most people in the capital now renting. Just under half of properties in the city are now owner-occupied, the lowest level since records began in 1991.
Official figures unearthed by the HomeOwners Alliance have revealed that the high point in homeownership in the UK was 2002, when 69.7% of households were owner occupied. The rate has plummeted since then to a low of 64.7%, a level last seen in 1988, when Mrs Thatcher was promoting ‘the right to buy’.
The report estimates that the slump in owner occupied properties has resulted in a 1.4 million fewer homeowners than otherwise would have been the case, had the previous trend continued. By 2016, that shortfall is estimated to jump to 2.4 million.
Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance said: “This decline in homeownership is depriving a generation of the chance to own the roof over their head, shattering their dreams and aspirations. It is preventing millions of people from living the sort of lives they want to. The report reveals a ‘homeownership gap’ of about 5 million households – people who want to live in their own home, but have to rent instead. Buying your first home is no longer a joyful rite of passage for young adults, but returning to being a privilege of elites”.
She warns the social consequences are profound and long lasting: poverty among pensioner and children will rise, social inequality worsen, with more and more people face life in insecure rented accommodation. Without urgent action, the government also faces a rocketing welfare bill, as housing benefit costs soar.
The study argues the causes of the crisis are deep. Mortgages remain out of reach because the deposits required by lenders have soared. The gap between what people earn and house prices in the UK is amongst the worst in the world. At the heart of the problem is a chronic shortage of new homes.
International comparisons confirm that the UK’s standing as a nation of home owners is under threat. It has now slumped to 11th from bottom in the EU for home owning levels, below countries such as Romania, Portugal, Ireland, and Bulgaria.
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Notes to Editor
1. The homeownership rate in London stood at 58.1% in 1991, and now stand at 49.9% (as of September 2012)
2. Since 1986, the owner occupation rates (%) are for the UK
1986 – 61.7%; 1990 – 65.7%; 1994 – 67.1%; 1998 – 68.3%;
2002 – 69.7%; 2006 – 68.5%; 2010 – 65.6%; 2011 – 64.7%
3. Owner occupation rates for Great Britain pre-1986 were estimated as follows:
1951 – 29.6%; 1961 – 42.7%; 1971 – 50.0%; 1981 – 57.4%
Figures obtained from Department for Communities and Local Government, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Analytical Services.
See annex of report for full breakdown
About the HomeOwners Alliance
The HomeOwners Alliance champions the interests of Britain’s homeowners and aspiring homeowners, and provides services they can trust. We are a membership organisation, acting as the voice of the homeowner in the media, lobbying for the interests of homeowners and aspiring homeowners in government, and campaigning against bad practices in industry.
We will directly engage with government and the media by conducting independent research and publishing reports that promote and champion the interests of homeowners. Former Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, called the HomeOwners Alliance “good news for homeowners and homeownership”.
At hoa.org.uk, we provide independent advice for the key moments in owning a home, supported by legal and industry experts. We are modelled on successful similar organisations on mainland Europe, notably in the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.