A report claims that England has just 825 homes for every 1,000 families as a result of two decades of house building failing to keep pace with population changes.
The Resolution Foundation, a think tank, controversially uses ‘family’ as the demographic measure – other assessments of the housing stock use ‘household’, where the less shocking figure is produced of 1,045 homes for every 1,000 households.
But based on its family definition, the Resolution Foundation claims that the housing deficit is worsening.
It claims that in 1991 there were 845 homes for every 1,000 families, rising to 867 in 1998, before going on a 20-year fall.
In 2016, England had 825 homes for every 1,000 families. The think tank says that this fall, relative to the housing stock ratio in 1998, is equivalent to one million missing homes.
As a result, it says the number of families sharing a privately rented home in England has trebled since 1991 from 550,000 to 1.7m last year.
The Foundation says that the growth of sharing households – which includes young professionals living together, or non-dependent children living with their parents – is likely to have come about more out of necessity than choice.
It says the increase in sharing, which is not factored into official estimates of the UK’s housing needs, is greatest in areas where housing cost pressures are most acute, such as London, the South East, Birmingham and Manchester.
The analysis shows that wider societal shifts have played a part in this housing stock squeeze.
It notes, for example, that older people are much less likely to live with adult children or other families today than in the past. In 1991, 16 per cent of those aged 65 and over lived in a shared home. By 2016 this figure had fallen to 11 per cent, increasing the number of homes needed.
The foundation admits that recent government policies to build more houses are helping to bottom out this decline with the ratio of housing stock to family units rising last year for the first time this century.
“However, if current building levels of 222,000 a year continue it will take until 2036 for the ratio of homes to families to return to its 1998 high point” claims the foundation.
“The number of homes built in the UK has consistently failed to match the housing needs of families. England’s housing stock has been squeezed over the past 20 years, leading to huge changes in the way we live” claims Lindsay Judge, senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation.
“The number of families sharing in the private rented sector has trebled since the 1990s, at the same time that adult children living with parents has also increased. This is likely to be more from necessity than choice. Independent living is simply unaffordable for many young families, particularly in cities where demand is high” she adds.