Homes under the hammer

Home is where the heart is, but unfortunately more and more UK citizens are finding themselves without a house to call home, why is this and how will it impact the UK and its people?

By Fraser Albiston.

17 March 2020 (22 days ago)

In this day and age, nobody should expect to wake up without a roof over their head. However, for almost 35,000 homeless applicants in Scotland last year, this was the case. This is including 14,075 children which is around 38 children everyday becoming homeless. This is a serious situation which will impact on the wellbeing of the people affected and hinders the education and development of the children involved. There are several causes as to why there is a lack of social and affordable housing throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Firstly, one of the reasons for a lack of social housing is due to housebuilders being able to accumulate land for future use. The housebuilders then hold on to the land in order to create a sense of scarcity of plots, which reduces the available supply of land for houses. To put this into perspective, in 2015 there was over 600,000 plots of land held by housebuilders that had planning permission which was four times the number of houses that were built in the year prior. There is also a further 480,000 plots of land tied up in legal deals by builders and land speculators, a large proportion of this land will not be released until the speculators have outlined planning permission and the selling price of the land rises. Therefore, this practice maximises the profit made by housebuilders but restricts the number of social housing projects being carried out.

Moreover, another cause of insufficient housing is due to an increasing population in the UK. Various types of housing are required such as private, rented accommodation, social and affordable housing and as a result of an increasing population, there is a rising demand for all types of homes. Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics shows that the UK population had reached a new peak of 66 million by 2017. This number is projected to increase to over 73 million by 2041. Furthermore, there were 148,000 more births than there were deaths which is due to having an ageing population where the percentage of adults over the age of 65 rose from 15.9% in 2007 to 18.2% in 2017. Also, immigration surpassed emigration by 282,000 in 2017. The number of social, affordable and private homes is not enough to cater for the rising population as only 40,000 affordable homes were built last year. In addition, Brexit will influence the above figures. On one hand the rising population may slow down due to fewer migrants entering the country. On the other hand, that also means that fewer migrants will be looking for work within the building trade.

To conclude, there are many reasons as to why there is a shortage in available social and affordable housing for those who need it, this housing crisis can impact both the mental and physical health of those who are affected. These effects include over a fifth of people aged 18-34 still living with their parents and they believe that this hinders their relationship with others because they can’t afford to buy a house. Moreover, many people also believe that the deposit for a home is a major stumbling block. All of these and many more factors burden people and leaves them sceptical about their future housing prospects.