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From 2.5 million outside loos to record-high ownership levels: 50 years of English housing in charts

17 November 2017

Housing has long been a hot political topic, and ahead of next week's budget Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, made a speech suggesting the Government might be about to make a move to combat the UK's short supply of homes.

Mr Javid hit out at home owners who have paid off their own mortgages and suggested that they should not be allowed to get in the way of the construction of homes for a younger generation "crying out for help with housing".

The extent of the changes in the trends of property ownership and conditions over the past two generations was revealed earlier this week in a report looking back over half a century of the English Housing Survey (EHS).

From outside loos to loft conversions

The EHS has always kept track of the standard of England's housing stock, but the criteria which they have used to assess it has changed over time.

In 1967 the survey focused on things that we would take for granted in a modern home: dwellings were assessed on whether they had a bath or shower, an indoor toilet, a wash hand basin, and hot and cold water at three points.

At that time, one in four homes lacked one or more of these basic amenities, while 2.5 million homes didn’t have an inside loo.

Of the homes built before 1965, more than half (56pc) have had some major work done to them in the past fifty years.

The most popular home improvement for these houses is an extension, with more than one in three pre-1965 homes getting one as of 2015.

Now the focus is more on health and safety, with inspectors assessing the structural integrity of homes as well as things like overcrowding, electrical safety and food hygiene.

Record levels of home ownership

Although it is getting harder for younger people to get on the housing ladder, the level of home ownership in England is actually only just below the record-high proportions around the turn of the millennium.

In 1961 just 43pc of people owned their own home. This figure rose to 70pc in 2001 before falling to 63pc in the latest edition of the survey, although this is weighted heavily towards older generations.

Meanwhile, the proportion of private rented households is on the rise again after reaching historically low levels in the Nineties.

A lack of new social housing has caused a drop-off in new homes

The EHS backs up Sajid Javid's assertion that the UK needs to build more houses – nine of the 10 lowest post-war years for house building have been since the year 2000.

This fall has largely been caused by a complete collapse in the number of completed social dwellings being added to the market.

In 1967 an incredible 154,500 local authority built-houses were completed. In 2016 the figure stood at just 2,090. 

Trends in housing types

The years after World War Two saw roughly a million new homes built every four years and this is reflected in the age distribution of England's housing stock today.

Close to two-thirds of the total 2015 housing stock was constructed post-war, with the vast majority of those homes having been built between 1945 and 1980.

The survey also reveals what are effectively trends in the popularity of different types of home over time.

For instance, more than 50pc of the surviving dwellings dating from the years 1850 to 1918 are terraced houses, while bungalows peaked between 1945 and 1980.

Of the houses that were built between 1981 and 2015 just 12pc were semi-detached, compared to 47pc for the houses surviving from the inter-war years.

The figures show that purpose built flats are on the increase while the detached house is the most commonly found type of property among those built between 1981 and 2015.


*Originally sourced from the Telegraph here: