Home ownership for young families has halved in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Outer London since the 1990s

Published on Housing, Wealth and Debt

Getting on the housing ladder is a thing of the past for many young families across the country, with home ownership halving among this group between 1994 and 2016 in areas such as West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Outer London, new analysis by the Resolution Foundation has found.

The new research counters the popular perception that the struggle to get on the housing ladder is largely confined to London and the South East. While Outer London has seen a big drop in home ownership for young families aged 25-34 (falling by 63 per cent between 1994 and 2016), West Yorkshire (-52 per cent) and Greater Manchester (-51 per cent) have also seen home ownership halving.

Big falls were also recorded in many other areas of the South East including Brighton, Southampton, Reading and Milton Keynes (-46 per cent), along with Merseyside (-44 per cent), East Anglia (-44 per cent) and the South West including Bristol (-43 per cent). Home ownership rates have fallen below 40 per cent in all of these areas.

The Foundation argues that such a seismic shift in home ownership puts the current younger generation in a very different position from that of the baby boomers currently leaving the workforce. These stark falls, along with a decline in social housing, mean that many more young families are now living in the private rented sector, struggling to save for a housing deposit at the same time as paying rent.

With support for housebuilding rising, including among older voters, both main parties have wisely made building more homes a key part of their pitch to the electorate:

  • The Conservatives have reiterated their 2015 commitment to a million more homes by the end of 2020, adding an additional target of another half a million by the end of 2022.
  • Labour have pledged to invest to build over a million new homes, with at least 100,000 council and housing association homes being built each year by 2022.

The Foundation argues that while these targets are encouraging, there is little information in the manifestos on how such ambitious plans will be achieved. It notes that housing stock in England rose by less than 200,000 units in 2015/16, and more concrete plans are required before voters can be confident that the next government will reach these ambitious targets.

Increased house building will not necessarily feed through into lower house prices in the short term. Given this, RF welcomes the commitments of all parties to make significant improvements to the private rented sector by curbing the worst landlord excesses and looking at providing families more security of tenure.

Lindsay Judge, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“London house prices always dominate the headlines, but with all eyes on the capital we’re missing the bigger picture. From Bristol to East Anglia and up to West Yorkshire, large swathes of young families across the country simply cannot afford to buy their own home. This has implications for their living standards in the here and now, but also in the future when their children grow up and they approach retirement without this key asset to draw upon in old age.

“The manifestos show clear intent from all the main parties to ensure home ownership is a possibility for more young families. But these pledges need a hefty dose of reality as they depend on vastly increasing the rate at which we are currently building in the UK.

“It’s welcome therefore that the main parties are also committed to improving standards in the private rented sector. As long as owning a home remains a pipe dream for vast numbers of young families, it’s vital that high quality, long-term rented housing is available for this group.”

Home ownership for young families (head=25-34 year old) over time


 19942016percentage change 1994-2016
Outer London55%20%-63%
West Yorkshire61%30%-52%
Greater Manchester59%29%-51%
South East – South East64%34%-46%
East Anglia61%34%-44%
Rest of Yorks and Humberside59%33%-43%
South West62%36%-43%
South Yorkshire55%32%-43%
South East- East68%39%-42%
Source: RF analysis of Labour Force Survey


 Notes to Editors

  • South East-South East includes Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Medway, Milton Keynes, Oxon, Portsmouth, Reading, Slough, Southampton, Surrey, West Berks, West Sussex, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham
  • South East-East includes Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Luton, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock
  • The Foundation’s home ownership rates are based on a family unit, rather than a household unit. Further information on this methodology is here.