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The next generation needs a long-term vision for homeownership – Bamford

  • 16/10/2023
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The next generation needs a long-term vision for homeownership – Bamford
I’m not sure if you’ve ever come across the satirical publication, The Onion, but it’s well worth dipping into now and again. While mostly focused on the US, it often comes up with some absolute crackers in terms of ‘news stories’.

As I watched Rishi Sunak’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference this month, I couldn’t help but think of one of the most famous Onion ‘stories’ which was headlined ‘Drugs Win Drug War’. 

The ‘story’ detailed that after 30 years of ‘combat’ the US had actually lost the ‘war’ and had announced its ‘unconditional surrender’ to drugs. Clever, punchy and on the money, you might agree. And that was back in 1998. 

As Sunak spoke, and attempted to spell out a ‘long-term vision’, I was struck by how little it contained for those people who would be around for the longest time in this country – that is the younger generation.  

What are the big issues they face – housing, cost of living, student loans, wages, and job opportunities – and yet there was very little, perhaps nothing, that addressed any of this. 

Housing in particular was conspicuous by its absence. And, while I’m certainly not of The Onion quality, I’m thinking that a headline of ‘Undersupply Wins Housing War’ might not be too far off the mark right now. 


Thinking of the next generation 

With the government having scrapped its target to hit 300,000 new homes every year by the mid-2020s, what are we currently left with? Certainly, a figure nowhere near this, or nowhere near what is actually required, not just in the owner-occupier space but also in the private rental sector (PRS), which is also chronically under-supplied. 

As I write this, Rightmove has just announced there are now 25 requests to view every single rental property in the UK, up from six in 2019. In some areas of the country, this is above 30.  

For those who want to get on the housing ladder, there are some considerable obstacles to overcome, particularly if they are renting at the same time. Saving up for a deposit when you are already paying a significant amount of your total income in rent, makes this very difficult. 

In this context it’s no wonder that a huge number of those able to purchase a first home are reliant on the Bank of Mum and Dad to support them, either via gifting of money or acting as a guarantor on the mortgage payments. But, what of those who have no access to this option? 


A long-term commitment 

Certainly, it’s something of a perfect storm here, with fewer properties to choose from, more difficulty in saving a deposit, plus you can add in higher mortgage interest rates which make affordability even more challenging. 

High loan to value (LTV) mortgage numbers have risen in recent months but again, we need a greater amount of supply to access, if wannabe buyers are going to be able to make that move. With Help to Buy gone, we have schemes like Deposit Unlock (of which we are proud to be involved), Generation Home, and Own New – and it would be a real positive to see the government get behind these schemes in a more tangible way, or frankly support them. 

Fundamentally, however, we need to build more homes and we need to make those affordable to people who live in those areas. Many of the developments that are being built are done so in order to maximise the profit available and are therefore focused on larger homes, at the expense of those two or three-bedroom properties that are in most demand.  

We are a year out from a General Election. I would like to hear at least one party or even one politician present a real, long-term vision for meeting this country’s housing needs – both for owner-occupation and the PRS. And, having done that, I would like it to at least try and secure cross-party support, so we have a true ‘long-term vision/strategy’ that can be achieved regardless of which party forms a government in the years to come.  

There doesn’t seem to be anything like this at the moment, and it will be the younger generation who will suffer the most from our country continuing to lose, or rather ignore, this particular ‘war’. 

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