Home ownership in England and Wales falls for first time in 100 years

Home ownership in England and Wales has fallen for the first time in a century with the latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics showing substantial trend change.

The decade from 2001 to 2011 saw the biggest changes in longstanding trends in home ownership and renting. In 2011, the proportion of owned homes decreased by 5%, the first fall in a century. As a consequence, home rentals have increased, especially among young people.

In 2011, some 64% or 15 million of the 23.4 million households in England and Wales were owner occupied, however this was a decline from 69% in 2001,

This led to an increase in the proportion of rented households from 31% to 36%, particularly within the private sector where rentals rose from 12% to 18% of the housing market, whilst social rented households remained stable, falling slightly from 19% to 18%.

Renters were younger and less likely to be employed. Some 87% of those aged 16 to 24 were renting compared with 24% of those aged 65 to 74. Meanwhile, only 1% of those who owned their house were unemployed, compared with 7% of those who rented.

Successive governments have not made housing a high enough policy priority, according to TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. ‘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,’ she said.

‘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,’ she pointed out.

She also said that selling off existing affordable homes through Right to Buy is not the way to deal with Britain’s housing crisis. ‘With the government able to borrow at rock bottom rates it needs to get out its cheque book and start building. Investing in house building will pay for itself and generate thousands of jobs and apprenticeships,’ she added.