Home ownership sinks to 25-year low and could continue shrinking


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The Independent Online

Home ownership in the UK is at its lowest level since the mid-1980s, figures show.

The proportion of Britons owning their own homes has been falling steadily for 10 straight years, after rising almost continuously over the course of the 20th century.

From an all-time high of 70.9 per cent in 2003, now only 65.3 per cent of Britons own properties, according to official data analysed by Nationwide.  The firm’s chief economist Robert Gardner warned this figure was set to fall further. “Stubbornly high inflation will continue to exert pressure on household budgets,” he said. “Moreover, buyer confidence is likely to remain fragile until there are signs that the wider economic recovery is firmly entrenched.”

The latest English Housing Survey published last month by the Department for Communities and Local Government revealed that more households are renting their homes privately in England than living in social housing for the first time since the 1960s. That marks a major turnaround in the popularity of home ownership and a major shift away from owner-occupancy back to renting.

Home ownership got its biggest boost in the boom years of the 1980s, partly on the back of the Tories’ Right-to-Buy scheme. But the soaring prices of the early 2000s and lending restrictions that followed the credit crunch have excluded first-time buyers.