Housing is a major source of intergenerational unfairness in the UK today. Many members of the baby boomer generation were able to buy houses when prices were low. The value of those houses has exploded since, making it much more difficult for younger generations to buy a home of their own. For several decades, house prices have grown significantly faster than wages. Lately, the government has poured kerosene on the housing market: policies like Help to Buy and the Stamp Duty holiday stimulating demand for housing without addressing the need to supply more housing.
Our recent research found that the pandemic has exacerbated intergenerational housing inequality, with some members of the older and wealthier generations buying second homes or larger homes in more rural areas. People with more space within their homes, and with access to more green space outside, have been better set up for pandemic trends, like being locked down within our properties and working from home, than those generally younger and less well-off people in smaller flats.
So it’s time to embrace a major housebuilding programme that will go a long way to address the issue of housing supply and spatial inequality in the UK: the government should treat the 300,000 new homes per year target as a minimum, and that should include in that 100,000 council homes built per year for the foreseeable future so that the most vulnerable households can be guaranteed high-standard and affordable housing.
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