Housing construction has not kept pace with population growth in almost half of England’s local authorities, according to an analysis by Sky News.
In the decade to 2021, population grew faster than or at the same rate as housing stock in 150 of 309 local authorities, according to our analysis of data from the recently released 2021 census and the Department of Leveling, housing and communities. .
Housing industry experts say we are not building enough, even where the number of new properties has kept pace with population growth, because there was already too little housing.
The number of dwellings in England has increased by 8.4% over the past decade, while the population has increased by 6.6%. But that’s an average, and averages hide the disparities between places.
When there are not enough vacant units, prices are higher and rental conditions are often worse.
Valentine Quinio, senior analyst at the Center for Cities, says we need vacant homes to allow the housing market to function properly.
“With very few empty homes, landlords have the bargaining power to raise rents because they know tenants have no other choice,” she says.
In England, only 1% of residential properties are vacant, which is well below most European countries.
In Germany, the latest OECD data shows that 8.2% of total housing is vacant, while in Japan it is 13.6%.
The proportion of long-term vacancies in England has not changed significantly since 2011 and is below 3% in all local authorities.
Quinio says the lack of empty properties means more people have to live in shared tenancies.
Our analysis also shows that household sizes are increasing in the same places where not enough houses were built over the past decade.
“The housing shortage was already a problem in many cities, and these are the same cities that are struggling now,” says Quinio.
A lack of supply also means that the average quality of the housing stock is lower, as new construction tends to be better insulated.
On average, more than eight in ten new residential properties created in England in 2021 were new homes.
But new construction accounted for less than half of new homes in eight of the 309 areas we analyzed including Portsmouth, Richmondshire and Eastbourne.
What does this mean for property prices?
Prices have risen everywhere in a decade, but the rise has been more than 50% in two-thirds of English local authorities.
The cost of buying a property has doubled in some London boroughs like Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Hackney and Lewisham.
Our analysis shows that prices have increased the most in areas where the population has grown faster than the number of dwellings and in areas where the proportion of empty dwellings is lower.
Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at property consultancy Knight Frank, says there are often localized gaps in housing because “it’s not a perfect system” and properties are not always built where they are most needed.
“Homebuilders are dealing with red tape, they are dealing with uncertainty about government support initiatives like Help to Buy,” he says.
“A lot of times it’s not as simple as going in and plugging a hole in the supply.”
A dysfunctional housing market has implications for population growth and economic development in cities.
Quinio says that outside of London, major cities have average population growth – a sign that they “can undercut their weight” when it comes to housing construction.
“They should be above average because they should drive economic growth,” she says. “[A shortage of housing] essentially delays household formation. »
A spokesman for the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities said: “Comparing population growth with new homes built does not take into account those living together.
“A more meaningful analysis is to compare the number of households – between 2011 and 2021 there were 1.9 million more homes in England, while the number of households increased by 1.37 million.
“We remain committed to our goal of delivering 300,000 homes a year and just before the pandemic hit, housing construction hit its highest level in 30 years – with over 242,000 new homes built.
“We are investing £11.5bn to provide up to 180,000 affordable homes across the country, alongside an investment of £1.8bn to support brownfield regeneration, providing more local housing , transport and better infrastructure for local communities.”
Local authorities are based on 2021 boundaries. For authorities whose boundaries changed between 2011 and 2021, we tracked and matched previous boundaries. The areas affected are: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Dorset, Buckinghamshire, West Suffolk, East Suffolk, Somerset and Taunton, West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire.
An area is considered to have an unhealthy housing market when the gap between population growth and growth in the number of housing units in stock is greater than -2 percentage points. Years refer to fiscal years.
Vacancy rates refer to long-term vacant properties only, which includes units that have been unoccupied for six months or more. This does not include dwellings registered as secondary residences.
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(c) Sky News 2022: Which parts of England are most affected by the housing crisis? And what drives the prices up?