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Bottom of the table

UK housing crisis still unresolved
Ryan Fletcher, Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Poorer families in the UK are much less likely to own their home than their counterparts abroad, new research that highlights Britain’s chronic housing crisis shows.


According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data, the UK is near the bottom of an international league table that ranks homeownership levels amongst families with incomes just below national averages.


Britain is 32nd in the OECD table of 37 countries, with homeownership rates below Mexico, Croatia and Romania.


Commenting on the findings, Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, called for a major increase in council house builds in order to alleviate demand.


Less than half of British “just about managing” families – defined by the OECD as those who are worse off than 60 percent of households but earn more than the poorest 20 percent –  have a foot on the property ladder, the data shows.


The analysis found that 49.5 per cent of British families in the “just about managing” bracket were buying or owned their homes, compared to 54.7 per cent in France, 56.2 per cent in the US and 62.7 per cent in Canada.


The UK was placed 27th in the home ownership table when all income groups where taken into consideration.


The OECD figures highlight Britain’s deepening housing shortage, which has left many struggling to pay inflated rents and unable to afford the deposit for a mortgage. Across much of the UK house prices have tripled during the last 20 years.


On average, first time buyers now have to pay between six and 12 times their yearly income to buy their own place – double the rate two decades ago.


According to Resolution Foundation calculations it would have taken a low to middle income family three years to save the deposit for a house back then. In today’s market it would take the same household 20 years.


Resolution Foundation senior policy analyst, Lindsay Judge, said, “Clearly this problem cannot be solved without a sensible rebalancing of housing costs and earnings.


“But when many on low incomes currently need to save for decades in order to buy their first home, action to improve security and reduce costs in the private rented sector is welcome too.”


A government spokesman insisted that first time buyers had increased by 59 percent since 2009, but Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the report was further evidence of how Conservative led policies of recent years have failed.


“Rather than austerity we could have had investment in large scale council house building programmes, creating homes and decent work,” Turner said.


“Rather than leaving a basic necessity – homes – to a broken market we could have had rent controls and regulations on private landlords. Instead of a lost decade on pay we could have had rising living standards.


He added, “The combination of these positive policies would have gone a long way to addressing the unfolding housing crisis we have now.”


For more information on Unite’s A Home is a Human Right campaign, click here.

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