Britains Housing Shortage

Housing Shortage In Britain Goes On

The current housing shortage is not something that has suddenly arrived, the country has had a housing deficit for years.

Following the First World War, the government announced it wanted “homes fit for heroes” for the returning troops and their families. There was a shortage of housing anyway, caused by material and labour shortages during the war years, and the government began a system of subsidies.

The subsidies were given to local councils to promote house building, and the result was the building of council houses, where the cost of the housing became shared between the tenant, the district rate payer, and the Treasury.

Growth was mostly on greenfield areas, and alongside the private sector, by the 1930’s, houses were being built at a rate of some 350,000 per year.

Towns and cities extended their borders and began to sprawl across the countryside. Building virtually ceased for the duration of the Second World War, materials and labour being in short supply.

After the war, not only were new build numbers down, but bombing had destroyed many urban homes, and the subsequent shortage was not eased until the ‘50s, with councils building some 250,000 homes per year.

The rate of building increased as new satellite towns were created, leaving a green belt around most major cities. New towns of London overspill included Harlow and Hemel Hempstead, to name just two.

By the 1960’s, the private and council buildings together reached as many homes as 400,000 per year, but the ’70, brought a financial crash to the market, and slowed the rate of building.

The Thatcher years saw the right to buy, and council tenants were able to buy their homes for the first time, at advantageous prices.

The rate of house building did not recover to replace council stock. The economy has taken its ups and downs effects on the property markets through to today, but still the stock of housing is inadequate, and house building numbers continue to remain far below the amount successive governments have advised. Need to find a new house? It can be difficult, but try here before you go elsewhere.

A report just after the turn of the millennium, calculating the ongoing shortage and projected population growth, indicated a build rate of 250,000 houses per year would be required. Needless to add, not even half of that rate has been achieved to date.

Modern construction methods, usage of timber frame systems and increased mechanisation on site, can make construction times relatively fast, but with current prices pouring money into the government coffers, it has little incentive to stimulate supply.