UK homeownership at lowest level in 24 years

Homeownership in the UK has plummeted to its lower level in 24 years, according to a shocking new report from the HomeOwners Alliance.

The new organisation, which champions those who either own, or want to own, their own home, revealed this week that the dream of owning a property in Britain is dying, "undoing a century of social progress".

Analysing unpublished government data, HOA announced this week that homeownership in the UK peaked 10 years ago, hitting a high or 69.7 per cent. Now, that has slipped to 64.7 per cent, a level last seen in 1988, when Mrs Thatcher was promoting ‘the right to buy'.

The report ranks Britain 11 th in the EU for home owning levels, below Portugal, Romania, Ireland and Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, the gap between homeowners and those who want to own a home, but can't afford to,  has risen to 5 million.

London has been worst affected, with most people in the capital now renting. Just under half of properties in the city are now owner-occupied, adds the HOA, the lowest level since records began in 1991.

The report estimates that the slump in owner occupied properties has resulted in a 1.4 million fewer homeowners than otherwise would have been the case, had the previous trend continued. By 2016, that shortfall is estimated to jump to 2.4 million.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance said: "This decline in homeownership is depriving a generation of the chance to own the roof over their head, shattering their dreams and aspirations. It is preventing millions of people from living the sort of lives they want to. The report reveals a ‘homeownership gap' of about 5 million households – people who want to live in their own home, but have to rent instead. Buying your first home is no longer a joyful rite of passage for young adults, but returning to being a privilege of elites".

She warns the social consequences are profound and long lasting: poverty among pensioner and children will rise, social inequality worsen, with more and more people facing life in insecure rented accommodation. Without urgent action, the government also faces a rocketing welfare bill, as housing benefit costs soar.

The study argues the causes of the crisis are deep. Mortgages remain out of reach because the deposits required by lenders have soared. The gap between what people earn and house prices in the UK is amongst the worst in the world. At the heart of the problem is a chronic shortage of new homes.

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