Friday, 19 April 2013

Home ownership gone sour

Home ownership is down and renting is bouncing back - though it's still less than half the level of nearly a century ago.

A new study from government statisticians paints a picture of a decades-long love affair with home ownership which has gone sour.

Home ownership rose steadily from the 1950s in England and Wales and was given a boost during the Thatcher years and the introduction of "Right to Buy".

But its decline set in just after the dawn of the new millennium.

Only 23% of households owned their own homes in 1918, a measure which reached a high of 69% in 2001, then fell back.

The drop was the result of rocketing house prices and, later, of mortgages becoming much harder to obtain.

By 2011 home ownership had fallen to 64%.

77% rented back in 1918. Renting reached a low of 31% in 2001, before rising to 36% in 2011 as buy-to-let investors cashed in on the lack of affordable homes to buy.

The recent slide in home ownership was documented in Census data published in December last year.

However today's study from the Office for National Statistics compares the Census information with government records on households since the end of the First World War.

The figures also show dramatic changes in the numbers renting from councils, housing associations and other social landlords.

Just 1% of households were social renters nearly a century ago. As councils started to build homes the proportion rose to 10% in 1939, peaking at 31% in 1981 before dropping to 18% two years ago.

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