Date Published 04 June 2012
We are now building fewer new homes than when the Queen came to the throne – and while homes are getting smaller, house prices have shot up and the mod cons have changed out of all recognition. And while a woman was on the throne, women couldn`t get a mortgage without their husband or father giving consent, and the lenders were 800 or so small, local building societies: today, there are around 50.
But perhaps the biggest change of all has been in home ownership: this has more than doubled over the past 60 years, from 32% of all households in England in 1953 to 66% in 2010-11. The Right to Buy scheme in the 1980s was a key driver of the rise, helping to lift owner occupation from 57% in 1981 to 68% in 1991.
However, since reaching a peak of 71% in 2003, owner occupation has been declining.
The private rented sector shows the same type of pattern in reverse. The proportion of homes in the private rented sector has fallen by two-thirds since the fifties, from 50% in 1953 to 17% in 2010-11. Over the last decade, however, the private rented sector has been rising again, after being as low as 10% in 2001.
Meanwhile, the proportion of social or council housing rose and fell over the period. It was 17% of all households in coronation year, went to a peak of 32% in 1981 and is now back at 18%.
In 1951, 201,860 new homes were built, compared with an estimated 137,000 in 2011, 60 years later. House building reached record levels in the sixties with 425,830 new homes being built.
New homes have also been shrinking in size. Homes less than 538 sq ft in size accounted for just 9% of all new homes built before 1980. After 1980, this proportion doubled.
The type of new home being built has also changed. Semis used to account for the largest proportion (41%) of new homes built between 1945 and 1964, but represent only 15% of homes built after 1980. Flats used to account for 15% of new homes between 1945 and 1964, but after 1980, account for 20% of new housing stock.
There has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of housing of all types since the war. In 1947, 42% of households had no bath or shower: by 1991, the proportion had fallen to 0.3%. In 1947, 64% of households had no basic water supply: this fell to 1% in 1991.
Households in England with a second toilet have increased from 31% in 1996 to 41% in 2007.
Another noticeable trend has been the fall of the ‘traditional’ family unit household. The proportion of households in England occupied by married couples has nearly halved since the 1970s from 70% in 1971 to 40% in 2011. Over the same period, the proportion of single person households in England has risen from 19% in 1971 to 33% in 2011.
Single person households are projected to replace married households as the most common form of household over the next decade.
As for house prices, over the last 60 years the average UK house price has increased 7,278% from £2,200 in 1951 to £162,338 in 2011. This is three times the rise in retail price inflation over the same period (2,477%).
UK House prices have risen in real terms