Home ownership in England falls to 30-year low
The number of renters grows to almost one-fifth of all households. Home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level in more than 30 years despite government efforts to reverse the decline.
Official figures in the annual English Housing Survey show 62.9 per cent of English households owned their homes in the financial year 2015-16, the lowest figure since 1985.
As a result, the rental sector provided a very different picture: another 250,000 households joined the private rented sector during the year, bringing renters to almost one-fifth of all households. This is a return to the long-term trend after a drop in levels of renting during the previous year.
The decline in ownership comes despite a series of measures initiated by David Cameron’s government designed to bring more people on to the housing ladder. These included the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, aiding purchases of new-build homes.
Mr Cameron’s administration hailed a slight rise in home ownership levels between 2014 and 2015, but the downward trend in evidence since 2003 — when ownership peaked at 71 per cent — has now resumed.
Since Theresa May took over in 2016, the government has signalled it wants a more balanced approach aimed at improving housing provision across different tenures, but has also continued Mr Cameron’s home-ownership schemes.
The number of first-time buyers has increased in the past year, reaching 654,000, the highest for seven years. Despite this, the decline in home ownership was down to younger generations struggling to get on the housing ladder.
“The figures show that the generational divide in housing is continuing to widen, with ongoing falls in levels of mortgaged home ownership and corresponding increases in levels of private renting for households in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” he said.
“At the other end of the scale, levels of debt-free home ownership among those at or approaching retirement, who benefited from the boom in home ownership in the 20th century, continue to increase.”
During the past 10 years, the number of households owning homes with a mortgage has dropped by 1.7m, while those owning outright rose by 1.3m. In the same period, the overall number of homeowning households in England fell by 461,000 — but the number renting rose by almost 2m, or 77 per cent.
Figures for the past decade also show the generational gap clearly: among 35-44 year olds, the number of homeowners dropped by 1.1m.
“While overall levels of home ownership may bottom out, this is likely to mask an ongoing disparity between growing levels of mortgage-free ownership among older generations and falling levels of mortgaged home ownership among younger households,” Mr Cook said.
Dan Wilson Craw, director of the Generation Rent campaign group, said the rise in rentals also meant a decline in living conditions. “Private tenants have few protections from landlords who want to raise the rent or evict them without a reason. People can’t enjoy a good quality of life with no certainty over their home — and it is especially difficult for the growing number of families and older people renting from private landlords,” he said.
“Ministers need to expand their ambitions to build homes, while reforming the law to provide stability for the millions who will be unable to buy in foreseeable future.”
A government spokesman said: “New housebuilding starts and the number of first-time buyers are now at the highest level for almost a decade. But we know that there is more to do to fix this country’s broken housing market and to make Britain a country that truly works for everyone.
“That’s why we’ve set out a comprehensive package of reforms in our housing white paper.”