The UK has a backlog of about 4 million homes. Ever-increasing portions of the population find themselves without a roof over their head. Whether it is because of rising house prices, a lack of appropriate housing, or a lack of property altogether, the shortage affects people in more ways than we think.
So which groups of people find themselves affected? We could easily answer this question by saying: everyone. But here are some of the key examples.
There are nearly a million more young people living with parents than was the case two decades ago. A housing shortage causes house prices to soar. As a result, young people find themselves priced out of the market.
Getting onto the property ladder has never been an easy process. But as the number of available housing plummets, house prices seem to be constantly growing. It is no longer a case of when young people will get onto the market, but rather if they ever will.
More and more, we are seeing young people paying extortionate amounts while trapped in private rentals, or living with parents until they become financially stable enough to buy. And often, this time will not come unless they get outside help from family members, receive an inheritance, or wait until they have a partner to share with.
Rough sleeping in the UK has risen 169% since 2010 and by 2020, it is estimated that over 100,000 homeless households will be trapped in temporary accommodation. This is down to both a lack of affordable housing and a lack of property altogether. There are not enough houses for everyone that needs one.
Not only this, but there is a tendency for landlords in the private rental sector to be hesitant to accommodate families on welfare. They are often not economically stable enough to be considered reliable tenants. It creates a vicious and never-ending cycle for homeless populations.
It is estimated that UK homelessness is increasing at such a rate that 36 new people become homeless each day. This means the problem is only getting worse. And unless we make significant progress soon, there will be even more damage to reverse in order to get the country back on track.
There is a nationwide lack of appropriate property for older populations. Lots of people are living longer and remaining healthier and more active into older age. Because of this, their needs from property inevitably change. There is less of a demand for care homes. This is replaced by a preference for accessible property that promotes independence but offers support when needed.
It is in the country’s best interest for older populations to remain socially and economically active for longer. Yet we are not doing enough to keep them feeling included and catered for.
A lack of suitable property will increase costs to the NHS. It is estimated that inappropriate housing will cost £20 billion by 2041. Accidents on stairs, cold, and overcrowding are all likely to play their part.
There is a need for us to provide flats that are accessible and offer social and leisure activities. Help should be on call when it is needed, but a large number of older populations want and would enjoy more independence. People are living longer, but we are not adapting housing to support this.
A less acknowledged effect of the housing shortage is on businesses across the country. 43% of UK businesses with over 1,000 employees say housing issues are impacting their productivity. This could be through a lack of office space. Prime city-centre locations are either too expensive or there is not enough to go around.
A housing shortage can also prove detrimental to the UK workforce’s well-being. If employees are left worrying about their personal housing situation, wider business productivity will suffer. Similarly, a lack of housing may limit employability and intake for new jobs.
The UK’s housing shortage is a pressing concern. And while shocking statistics are spread around, there still seems to be a lack of any real progress. The issue affects so many more people than we realise. And it has knock-on effects for all of us. In order to make significant progress, a significant amount of homes need to be built. For developers looking for potential projects, now might be the time to focus on some key UK markets.