Action urged over 'struggle to buy homes' amid rising prices


Home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level since 1986 as soaring prices force millions to abandon their dreams of buying their own place, new analysis warns.

The Resolution Foundation found the proportion of people owning their own home has plummeted across every part of the UK since their peak in the early 2000s, with Greater Manchester seeing the biggest fall.

The think-tank said the figures show the longed talked-about London housing crisis has spread, with regions in the north and the Midlands becoming increasingly unaffordable.

In England house ownership rates have fallen 7% from a peak of 70.8% in April 2003 to 63.8% February 2016, while across the UK it has dropped 6.8% from its October 2004 peak of 70.9%.

The largest fall is in Greater Manchester which has seen homeownership sink 14.5% from 72.4% in April 2003 to 57.9% in February 2016.

Outer London has seen the second biggest drop of 13.5%, going from a peak of 71.4% in October 2000 to 57.8% in February 2016, while the West Midlands is third with a decline of 11.2% from its April 2005 high of 70.5%.

The Foundation said the findings suggest that figures showing home ownership increased in 2014 for the first time in a decade was "likely a blip" and the overall trend of decline is continuing.

Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "London has a well-known and fully blown housing crisis, but the struggle to buy a home is just as big a problem in cities across the north of England.

"The chances of owning a home have fallen fastest in Greater Manchester over the last decade, though the Leeds and Sheffield city areas have also experienced sharp drops."

Mr Clarke said renters face higher living costs in the long run and find it harder to build up a nest-egg later on in life.

He said: "These drops are more than a simple source of frustration for the millions of people who aspire to own their home. The shift to renting privately can reduce current living standards and future wealth, with implications for individuals and the state.

"We cannot allow other cities to edge towards the kind of housing crisis that London has been saddled with."

Northern Ireland has seen the biggest fall of any of the home nations, with home ownership sinking 10.5% from its November 2006 peak of 73.5%.

While Scotland has seen rates fall 5.6% from its October 2004 high of 69.1% and in Wales they have dropped 5.1% from 74.8% in May 2006 to 69.6% in February 2016.

The new Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken of the need to tackle the housing crisis, warning that unless more is done prices will continue to rise and the divide between those who inherit and those who do not will become deeper.

Mr Clarke urged Mrs May to deliver on her promise to tackle the housing deficit.

He added: "She may find that making good on this promise could secure as important a legacy as negotiating a successful exit from the European Union."

Anne Baxendale, head of policy and public affairs at the housing charity Shelter, said: "With house prices now completely out of step with average wages, sadly it's no surprise that home ownership across the country is declining so drastically.

"Sky-high rents are leaving many families struggling to make ends meet each month, let alone save up enough for the deposit on a home. Far from being the stepping stone it once was, many young people and families are now facing a lifetime stuck in expensive and unstable private renting.

"The new Government has a real chance to give hope back to these families by tackling the root cause of the housing crisis and building genuinely affordable homes that people on ordinary incomes can actually afford to rent or buy."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said more than 300,000 people have been helped into home ownership through government-backed schemes since 2010, and a more than a decade-long decline in home ownership has stopped.

He added: "However, we know there is more to do, which is why we've set out the most ambitious vision for housing in a generation, including delivering hundreds of thousands of homes exclusively for first-time buyers."