Britain’s housing catastrophe has driven a 50-year drain on living standards

Here’s why 

The average share of income that Britain’s families spend on housing has trebled over the last 50 years, with young people having to make do with longer commutes and smaller, insecure rented accommodation, according to a new report published by the Resolution Foundation.

As Labour and the Conservatives head to their party conferences looking to learn the lessons from the shock election result in June and the highest turnout amongst young people since 1992, the report starkly illustrates why the question of generational fairness and housing has become a totemic concern about living standards in Britain today.

Home Affront shows that each generation since the war has had to spend more of their income on housing.

The pre-war ‘silent generation’ (1926-1945) spent just seven per cent of their income on housing at the age of 30. This figure more than doubled for the baby boomers (1946-1965), who spent 17 per cent of their income on housing at that age. And it has reached a record high for millennials today (1981-2000) who currently spend almost a quarter of their income on housing (23 per cent) at age 30.

While housing costs have escalated, the baby boomer generation has been the biggest beneficiaries of improvements in the security and quality of housing that have taken place over this time as home ownership spread.

Those born in the late 1940s have enjoyed the highest ownership rates over the course of their lives, with each five-year cohort after them doing worse than their predecessors. Home ownership rates among young families born in the early 1980s are now around half that of those born 30 years earlier at the same age.

The Foundation notes that while housing has been a growing drag on living standards for everyone, increased home ownership has boosted the wealth of older generations, as well as their income in later life as a record proportion now own their homes outright.

In contrast, younger generations are being rewarded for the record amount they have to spend on housing with lower home ownership, greater insecurity and smaller homes that are further from where they work.



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