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Why does the UK have a housing crisis?

A shortage of affordable homes are keeping people off the housing ladder

The UK is embroiled in a housing crisis, and you’re unlikely to find an expert who disagrees.

There are a number of reasons for this but the underlining problem is clear – there just aren’t enough affordable homes to go around.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire told The Big Issue in May that dealing with the crisis is the biggest challenge he has to face in his new role. He said: “There are significant issues but ultimately this comes down to building more homes. The challenge is how to get things built and how to build the affordable homes that the country desperately needs and I have to continue to listen to prepare new ideas.”

He is the man tasked with ensuring that the government hits its 2017 Budget pledge to build 300,000 homes-a-year by the mid-2020s. His predecessor Sajid Javid had already unveiled national housing agency Homes England to carry it out.

But even then these measures might not be enough, with the National Housing Federation calling for £340,000 homes each year – emphasising that these need to be the right homes, namely 90,000 for social rent, 30,000 for intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 for shared ownership.


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

The shortage of homes is causing prices for the 28 million dwellings in the UK to grow with the average price of a property up 4.2 per cent in the UK to £224,144, according to the UK Housing Index.

Empty or second homes also contribute to this problem with over 200,000 left dormant for over six months in the UK. The government has introduced the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill which will apply a double council tax hike top owners if approved. The Big Issue launched our own Fill ‘Em Up campaign in 2015 to tackle this problem.

And with ONS reporting that the average home in England and Wales would now cost a full-time worker 7.8 times their salary, it is little wonder that millennials are struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder.

And that is driving people into the private rental market which has more than doubled in size in the last two decades with the English Housing Survey finding that 4.9 million homes (20 per cent) were private rented.

With rents taking a high proportion of salary – up to 49 per cent on average in London according to ONS – there just simply isn’t enough opportunity to save up for a deposit.

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