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Property ladder or greasy pole on fire?


Unless you’re of a certain age, circa Baby Boomer and before, you probably find the notion of a property ladder somewhat inaccessible. After all, if you’re not actually on the wretched thing, can it be said to truly exist? But then, what is property…

Thankfully for you, this isn’t a particularly boring teenage philosophy article. No, it’s about the ever-illuminating English Housing Survey 2015-16 which was released by DCLG this month. It makes for unsurprisingly depressing, but nonetheless interesting reading for anyone looking at how to eliminate the blossoming housing crisis which is leaving the ladder looking even less accessible than this time last year. Here, we look at some of the headline findings.

Expectation to buy amongst private renters is stagnating, but growing amongst social renters:

  • 6 Million households in the PRS (59%) expect to buy, unchanged on 2014-15.
  • 1 Million households in the social rented sector (27%) expect to buy, up on 24% over 2014-15.

Affordability remains the main obstacle:

  •  65% of all renters cited affordability as the main barrier to getting their own home.
  • Affordability has grown significantly as a barrier for private rental sector tenants, 70% cited affordability, up from 56% in 2008-09.

Everyone still wants to own their own home:

  • Just 10% of renters said they did not expect to buy because they liked it where they were.
  • Just 3% of renters said they did not expect to buy because they preferred the flexibility of renting.

 Living with mum and dad, a thing but, not as common as feared:

  • 5 Million Households contain at least one adult who would like to have their own accommodation, but cannot afford to do so, some 1.9 Million people.
  • 66% of those persons reside in the owner-occupied sector, and 80% of those persons are in work.

DCLG think it’s useful to note that households generally “get the concept” of direct financial payments aimed at reducing opposition to new homes

Despite getting the concept, the majority of households don’t think it would affect their thinking when opposing development:

  • 46% of respondents equate financial benefits for communities with outright bribery.
  • 84% felt any payment would not influence their views on housing development or their likelihood to engage in some form of opposition to it.

The future to overcoming local opposition might be housing delivery working in step with infrastructure and service delivery, and giving folk a say:

  • Over a third of respondents thought this would lessen their opposition.

The English Housing Survey is a terrible way to measure racial and religious harassment:

  • 95% of respondents signalled it wasn’t a problem in their area. Up 1 point from 94% in 2010-11.
  • Whilst the perception of it as a problem has lessened, the Home Office have reported, based on recorded crimes (so the true picture is likely to be significantly higher), a 34% increase in religious hate crimes and a 15% increase in race hate crimes over the 2015-16 period.

The Private Rental Sector is now the stepping stone to home ownership:

  • 39% of first time buyers lived in the PRS before purchasing in 1995-96, now 66% of first time buyers do.
  • Annoyingly, the survey doesn’t go into detail on what sort of PRS home buyers are stepping into ownership from.

The trend to put off home ownership and get on with life is continuing:

  • Your average first time buyer is now 32 but the 35-44 first time buyer bracket is growing significantly.
  • 74% of first time buyers are now buying with a partner.
  • Nearly 40% of first time buyers now have dependent children, up from 32% in 2005-06.