In Depth

The statistics behind the UK’s housing crisis

Government fails to build any of the 200,000 new starter homes it pledged in 2014

Statistics revealing that the Government has failed to build any of the 200,000 new starter homes it promised in 2014 have once again thrown Britain’s deepening housing crisis into focus.

The National Audit Office today reported that the starter homes scheme announced by the then prime minister David Cameron was “aimed at those under the age of 40” and would facilitate the sale of new homes at a 20% discount.

However, the BBC reports that “legislation to take the project forward was never passed”.

And despite the Government claiming it had a “great track record” on housing, the BBC notes that the crisis is currently “impacting all ages across every part of the country”.

Here are five stats revealing the extent of the UK’s housing problem:

More than 10,000 people in emergency accommodation

Statistics published by the Department of Housing last week showed that 10,397 people were in emergency accommodation in the UK in September. This was made up of 6,524 adults and 3,873 children.

Wayne Stanley, the national spokesman for the Simon Communities homeless charity, said the statistics had shown how “quickly these things become normalised”, adding that the fact that more than 10,000 people were living in emergency accommodation has “lost its shock value”.

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3.6 million people are living in overcrowded homes

According to housing law, a property is overcrowded if two or more people of a different sex have to sleep in the same room and they are aged ten or over, excluding couples who share a room. It applies to any room the occupants can sleep in, including living rooms, dining rooms and studies.

In September, research carried out by Heriot-Watt University showed that as many as 3.6 million Britons are currently living in conditions that would fall under the legal definition of overcrowded, reports The Guardian.

Three million new homes must be built in 20 years

In January this year, Shelter warned that three million new social homes needed to be built in England alone over the next 20 years to fix the housing crisis.

A report published by the homeless charity said that 1.17 million of these homes are needed for younger families who “face a lifetime in expensive and insecure private renting”, while a further 1.27 million are needed to house those in greatest need - including homeless people and those living with a disability.

Homes cost 7.8 times annual salaries

The Office for National Statistics reported in March this year that, on average, full-time workers could expect to pay an estimated 7.8 times their annual workplace-based earnings on purchasing a home in England and Wales.

The report also showed that over the past five years there were no local authorities in which affordability improved, with 77 of them becoming less affordable over this time.

Currently, the least affordable local authority is Kensington and Chelsea, where house prices are around 44.5 times greater than the average annual earnings.

400,000 people are homeless or at risk of homelessness

When taking into account both homeless people and the so-called “hidden homeless” - people living in homeless shelters, temporary accommodation or sofa-surfing - researchers estimate that 400,000 people in the UK are either homeless or hidden homeless, the BBC reports.


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