If we are to provide housing for all, we must end unsustainable population growth.
The Local Government Association has called for the building of half a million new homes to avert an “emerging housing nightmare”.
The Association points out that:
In the last 14 years, house prices have on average soared by more than 155 per cent. However, the average wage has risen by only 41 per cent.
More than three million adults aged 20 – 34 are now living with their parents, house prices are rising faster than average earnings and there are 1.7 million households on the waiting lists for affordable homes across England.
The number of people renting has doubled and the average first-time buyer is now aged 35. House prices have rocketed to 14 time the average salary in London and 11 times in the South East.
Around half — 44 per cent — of the 50 most unaffordable places to live in England outside of London are in rural areas. House prices in these areas are between 13 and 20 times the average salary.
The Association does not mention the cause: the growth in the UK population by approximately four million during the last decade – one of the fastest increases in Europe. The Association does point out that the growth in household formation is continuing: the government estimates that there will be an additional 221,000 households formed each year from now until 2021. While the household size is falling, again, a key underlying issue is Britain’s rising population, with no end in sight.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that the UK population will increase by a further 10 million to 73 million by 2037 and by 24 million to 87 million by 2087. This has serious consequences not just for housing provision but for the availability of amenities, services and resources. The actual population outcome will depend on whether we seek to influence our population size or just let it happen and then seek to cope.
Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented, “Our current housing crisis is the result of the shortsightedness of previous governments that have just let population growth happen without any thought for the consequences. The current government is trying to tackle one of the causes: our large imbalance in migration flows. Local governments can help by seeking to ensure that existing residents are well qualified to take advantage of housing and employment opportunities.
“Britain has one of Europe’s highest proportions of large families. While the central government could do more to promote smaller families through, for example, making sex and relationship education statutory and phasing in limits to subsidies for all but the poorest large families, local governments have an important role to play here too in reducing unplanned pregnancies by improving the quality of family planning provision.”