Between 2001 and 2011 there was a 1.7 million rise in the number of households in England and Wales to stand at 23.4 million households. Nearly all of this increase has happened within the rental sector which increased by 1.6 million households over the same period. There was an 110,000 rise in the number of householders owning their home. This has meant that over the decade the percentage of people owning their home fell for the first time in almost a century across England and Wales. The fall in ownership from a peak of 69% in 2001 to 64% in 2011 happened against an economic backdrop of tighter lending requirements since the financial crash in 2008 and increasing difficulty to raise deposits with house prices increasing at a much faster rate than wages.
All of the increase in renting over the decade occurred within the private rental sector, continuing a trend that happened between 1991 and 2001. This followed the passing of a Housing Act in 1988 that aimed to reverse rent controls introduced in 1915, by allowing landlords and tenants to negotiate rent levels, which made it more attractive to become a private landlord. Before 1991 the private rental sector was in long term decline – in 1918, 76% of households were privately renting.
Social housing rose throughout the century until the right-to-buy scheme
In 1918 just 1% of homes were socially rented, but the need to rebuild following the First World War, saw the Government of the day introduce a social housing policy in 1919, in which they subsidised and passed a law forcing local authorities to provide social housing. The numbers of people in social housing continued to rise throughout the century, peaking at 31% in 1981, just after the introduction of the right-to-buy scheme. This scheme saw people buying their social homes and coupled with new relaxed requirements on the building of new social housing, over the past 30 years, social renting has fallen back to 18% in 2011.
Renting increases across all regions of England and in Wales
The percentage of households renting increased in all English regions and in Wales, in the decade to 2011. London had the highest percentage of renters, where over half of householders rented, at 50.4%. This was about 15 percentage points higher than the average for England and Wales which was 35.7%. The second highest region was the North East with 37.8%, while Yorkshire and The Humber with 35.5% had the third highest rate. The region with the lowest percentage of households that were renting was in the South East at 31.3%.
More local area analysis of housing is available in the full story looking at A Century of Home Ownership and Renting in England and Wales.
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