North faces housing crisis akin to London's as home ownership plummets

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WirePicture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
CITIES in the north face being saddled with a housing crisis akin to that of London, a think tank has warned, as home ownership levels across Yorkshire plummet.

Sharp drops in ownership in the region’s biggest cities, Leeds and Sheffield, have seen West and South Yorkshire experience double digit falls since their early 2000s peak, a report by the Resolution Foundation said.

The struggle to buy a home is now “just as big a problem” in the north as it is in the capital, and the Foundation urged the prime minister to make good on pledges to tackle the housing deficit.

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The new analysis showed home ownership in England as fell to levels last seen in 1986 in February, with Greater Manchester seeing the biggest drop.

In South Yorkshire, home ownership stood at just 58.4 per cent, a 9.8 per cent drop on its peak over the last decade, when it stood at 68.2 per cent in October 2005. West Yorkshire saw a drop of 10.6 per cent from its April 2003 peak of 70.8 per cent to just 60.2 per cent. The figures for the rest of Yorkshire and the Humber showed ownership levels of just 65 per cent in February, slightly above the England average of 63.8 per cent.

The fall corresponded with a near doubling in the proportion of private renters across England, up from 11 per cent in 2003 to 19 per cent in 2015. The Foundation said renters face spending a far higher share on their income on housing than those with a mortgage and were failing to accumulate wealth they may later rely on.

Policy analyst Stephen Clarke said: “We cannot allow other cities to edge towards the kind of housing crisis that London has been saddled with.”

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South Yorkshire MP John Healey, who was shadow housing minister from September 2015 to June 2016, said home ownership was “fast becoming a luxury” for those on the highest salaries.

The Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne said: “The fall in home-ownership has been particularly steep over the last six years. A million more families became home-owners under Labour but on David Cameron’s watch we built the lowest number of homes since the 1920s. Theresa May must show she’s learnt from the mistakes of the last six years and is prepared to do things differently.”

Housing charity Shelter said “sky high rents” were leaving many families struggling to make ends meet. Head of policy and public affairs, Anne Baxendale, said: “With house prices now completely out of step with average wages, sadly it’s no surprise that home ownership in Yorkshire is declining so drastically. The new government has a real chance to give hope back to these families by tackling the root cause of the housing crisis and building genuinely affordable homes.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said more than 300,000 people have been helped into home ownership since 2010. He added: “However, we know there is more to do, which is why we’ve set out the most ambitious vision for housing in a generation, including delivering hundreds of thousands of homes exclusively for first-time buyers.”