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312,000 homes a year needed in England - report

Words: Laura Edgar

Young people across the country are struggling the most to live independently because of the cost of housing, with more than 310,000 homes needed each year to meet demand, according to figures released today.

The research, How Many Homes, commissioned by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), found that the housing requirement to meet the current government projection of 220,000 homes in England each year until 2031 is lower than anticipated.

The TCPA said this is because younger people are finding they “cannot afford to form independent households”.

Housing shortages and higher rents and house prices as a result, as well as increasing levels of student debt, mean that young people are living with parents or in house shares for longer.

Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive, said: “The government needs to see this as a wake-up call. It has already fallen behind on its targets for house building, and this is now having a devastating effect on young people. More needs to be done to build the necessary number of high-quality, affordable homes for people who need them.”

The research, based on statistics (pdf) from the Department of Communities and Local Government and Office of National Statistics, found that 55 per cent of the homes required are needed in London and the surrounding area, while in the North-East, the number of new households is expected to rise by 11 per cent over 20 years.

Additionally, the research found that 54 per cent of the homes needed have been built since 2011, when comparing the 2012-based projections with the DCLG house building figures for 2011/12 to 2014/15.

The report says: “The failure to build the homes needed to house the projected growth in households means that household formation rates are likely to be lower than envisaged in the projections.”

To address the shortfall, the report suggests that 312,000 homes need to be built in England over the next five years.

“This is more than 50 per cent higher than the government’s ‘target’ of a million homes, which itself is seen by most commentators as unobtainable,” continues the report.

Christine Whitehead, co-author of this research and emeritus professor at the London School Economics, said: “One of the biggest concerns is that couples aged between 25 and 34 – at the time when family formation is at its highest - are expected to be less well housed in 2031 than their counterparts in 2011. And if house building cannot be increased at least to the projected levels other household groups will find themselves in the same boat.”

David Cowans, chief executive of Places for People, added: “Housing is part of the essential infrastructure that this country needs to prosper and on the current delivery rates, this pressing need will not be met.

“Government needs to work with the public and private sectors to arrive at bold and radical solutions to ensure that, together, we can get on with housing our nation.”

* The research was funded by the Lady Margaret Patterson Osborn Trust and Places for People