In February’s Housing White Paper the Government moved away from its broad focus on encouraging home ownership, something that was front and centre of the David Cameron administration, in favour of helping to fix the housing market so that more people across the country can have the security of a decent place to live. We examine the latest available data from the Labour Force Survey and from NOMIS to illustrate tenure make-up in the North and how it has changed over recent years.
Despite commitments and incentives from the White Paper to continue publicising the Help to Buy equity loan programme, the number of households owning their own home has been falling since 2006, and in response there is a significant increase in private rental,both nationally and in the North (as the figure below shows). After accounting for one-quarter of the housing market in 1996, social housing saw a decline in popularity until 2011 when it has remained constant at 19%.
Tenure Changes in the North 1996-2016
Generally, Tenure patterns vary by region but private renting remains consistent across the North. The Government now recognises the need for security of tenure in the private rented sector and is committed to exploring “family friendly tenancies of three years minimum duration”. This comes after a significant increase in private renting in all parts of the country. In the North East in particular, private renting has more than doubled from 2006 to 2016 albeit from a relatively small base number of 88,000.
Change in Private Renting 2006-2016
As the figure above shows, other parts of the North and the Midlands have seen large increases in the private rented sector but changes in other tenures are not so straightforward. Six out of the nine English regions saw a decrease in owner-occupation since 2016 – some relatively substantial and mostly concentrated in the three Northern regions (see Yorkshire and Humber) – along with the Midlands.
Elsewhere, with the exception of the South East, owner occupation has grown, most notably in the East of England.
Change in Owner-occupation 2006-2016
There is no pattern to be gleaned from an examination of the change to social renting by region. There were increases in four regions and similarly, decreases in another four. As far as the North is concerned, the largest decrease (-8.4%) in social renting in the country was in the North East and there was a slight increase in Yorkshire and Humber.
Change in Social Renting 2006-2016
There was also a large decrease in social renting in London where there has been increases in both private renting and owner-occupation (above).
Private renting is dominated by younger people with over half of private renters aged between 16 and 34 and this decreases with age.
Tenure in the North by Age Group
|Age 16 to 34||Age 35 to 49||Age 50 to 64||Age 65 and over||Total|
The higher the age range, the greater the proportion of owner-occupiers and as those in the younger owner-occupied age groups get older, so the proportion of older people in this sector will grow. There is a greater spread of ages living in social rented accommodation with almost the same proportion of 16-34 year olds and 50-64 year olds living in the social sector.
It is clear that there has been a shift in tenure patterns in recent years with the private rented sector now playing almost as significant a role in the northern housing market as the social rented sector. Affordability of owner-occupation continues to be an issue, despite government attempts to counter this, and its popularity is dwindling. However, after a reported slump in the buy-to-let market, we may see younger people in a stronger position to buy their own homes in the coming years and a return to the pre-2006 status quo. Either way, local plans will need to be robust in ensuring markets are balanced and as suggested in the White Paper, may need to be reviewed every five years to keep up with the moving market. As devolution deals evolve across the northern regions, strategic sites could be allocated across larger geographical areas determining the tenure balance over local authority boundaries.
The NHC has recently constituted a working group for members on the private rented sector that seeks to share best practice and act as a forum for those working in the PRS to share ideas and problems with colleagues. With the share of the PRS growing, it is important that issues around quality, regulation and driving up standards are explored for the benefit of members and those living in private rented accommodation. The next meeting is expected to take place in October or November. To be notified when the date is confirmed, please sign up to receive the NHC’s event update.