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On 3 November 2016, the House of Lords will debate the impact of the shortage of housing, particularly on young people, in their desire to live in the communities where they were born, raised and educated.

A number of commentators have argued that Britain is facing a housing crisis with a lack of new homes being built and homeownership falling to its lowest level in 30 years. In 2015, UK housebuilders completed 170,670 permanent dwellings, of all tenure types, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), compared to 144,980 in 2014. DCLG projections suggest that the number of households in England is projected to increase from 22.7 million in 2014 to 28.0 million in 2039.

Commentators, and the findings of recent reports, have drawn attention to the impact of the housing shortage on young people. As a consequence of a number factors, including rising house prices, young people have reportedly found it increasingly difficult to get on the housing ladder. The Office for National Statistics has noted that there has been a reduction in the number of 25 to 34 year olds owning homes in England. In 1991, 67 percent of this age group owned homes, but this had fallen to 36 percent by the year ending 2014. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers noted that the so-called ‘generation rent’, those aged 20 to 39, would have to save for 19 years to buy their own home. Studies suggest the housing shortage has had a number of other effects on young people, including rising rents, impact on family life, issues associated with intergenerational fairness, and a risk of homelessness.

In July 2016, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, observed that “if you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home” and pledged to make “Britain a country that works for everyone”. The previous Coalition Government and the current Conservative Government have introduced a number of measures to encourage homeownership, such as the starter homes scheme and the help to buy equity loan. The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has recently called for a million new homes by 2020. However, a House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report published in July 2016 recommended that England should be building at least 300,000 homes each year to meet demand. Housebuilding peaked in 2006–07 when 219,000 homes were built.

This House of Lords Library briefing presents an overview of housing in the UK, including statistics on housing supply and demand. The briefing then considers some of the causes of the housing shortage and explores recent reports that have sought to identify the impact of the housing market on young people. It concludes with a brief summary of government policy in this area.


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