Latest figures show home ownership levels in the UK have fallen to their lowest levels since the 80s when Thatcher was in power. Nine years ago 71% of homes were owner occupied, but now that figure has fallen to just 66%, with one in three households either in social housing or renting from a private landlord.
This is the largest figure since 1988 when Thatcher's right to buy scheme was at its height. In 1980 less than 10 million people owned their own homes, but this figure increased to 13 million in 1991, or 67% of the population. Nowadays just 10% of people aged 35 or under are homeowners, and rising population figures means increasing competition for homes is keeping prices high.
Home ownership figures have gradually been falling since 2003, but the proportion living in subsidized housing owned by local councils or housing associations has also declined. In 1981 31.7% of homes were rented from social landlords, but this figure has dropped to just 17.5%. Not surprisingly the number of private landlords has increased substantially, and at 16.5% is nearly equal to the state subsidized rental sector. In fact the number of privately rented homes has increased by 50% since the turn of the century.
Government ministers are currently looking at ways to help more young people buy their own homes, but attempts to ease planning restrictions last year proved too controversial for many and the reforms may need to be rethought. Apparently the government has already identified sufficient state-owned land to construct 80,000 new homes, and is asking companies that own large tracts of land to identify more sites which would be suitable for house building.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has also called on the government to consider converting empty retail property into housing but scope to do so maybe relatively limited due to cost, planning restrictions and suitability of the area.