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House prices send home ownership to 30-year low


Rising property prices and stagnating wages blamed as number of people owning their home sinks to 1986 levels

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UK home ownership is at its lowest rate for 30 years, according to a new report.

Figures compiled by the Resolution Foundation think-tank, based on an Office for National Statistics Labour Force survey, show the proportion of households owning their home has fallen from a peak of 71 per cent in 2003 to 64 per cent now, says The Guardian.

That's the lowest number since 1986, when home ownership was soaring on the back of the Thatcher government's right-to-buy policy for council house tenants.

Typically reports on this nature focus on the housing crisis in London, but today's survey shows the decline in home ownership levels is being recorded across the country.

The capital peaked at 72 per cent in 2000 and has fallen to 58 per cent. Manchester hit the same high back in 2003 and has also fallen to 58 per cent while Yorkshire, driven by Sheffield and Leeds, and the West Midlands have also seen "double-digit declines".

There have also been sizeable drops outside England, adds the BBC. Northern Ireland's ownership level fell from 73 per cent in 2006 to 63 per cent; in Scotland, it has slipped from 69 per cent in 2004 to 63 per cent; and in Wales, from 75 per cent in 2006 to 70 per cent.

Resolution Foundation economists pointed to affordability issues that have emerged since the early 2000s, when house prices were surging but 100 per cent mortgages enabled younger first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

Since then, wages have stagnated for many as a result of the financial crisis, which also practically killed off no-deposit loans. Property has risen around 60 per cent in the last decade but average inflation-adjusted wages have fallen by ten per cent.

Lindsay Judge, an expert on housing at the Resolution Foundation, said: "House prices began to outpace earnings in the early 2000s. When the market fell so did earnings… so few people were able to make the most of falling prices."

The decline in home owning could pose problems down the line as future pensioners who are still paying rent on their home are forced to rely on the welfare state, says the report.

Theresa May, in her first speech as Prime Minister, pledged to tackle the "injustice" that younger people today "find it harder than ever to buy their own home", including by stimulating a wave of house building targeted at first-time buyers.

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