UK housing is the worst value for money in developed world

  • Post last modified:March 25, 2024
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Britain’s housing stock offers the poorest value for money among advanced nations. That’s the verdict of a Resolution Foundation study published on Monday 25 March. It warns that the UK’s crisis-hit sector will loom large over this year’s election.

UK housing: worst in the Global North

The Resolution Foundation think-tank, publishing its quarterly outlook for the UK housing market, slammed the quality of UK homes as expensive, small, ageing, and energy inefficient. Its report used OECD data to compare UK housing stock with that of similar economies. It said:

When it comes to housing, UK households are getting an inferior product in terms of both quantity and quality.

Homes in Britain have less floorspace per person than many other Global North economies, trailing France, Germany, Japan, the US – plus Taiwan.

And they even have less floorspace per person than those in New York’s central city district, the study noted.

The Resolution Foundation also said that the UK spends less on housing than many other Global North countries:

Countries that have a similar level of prosperity to us consistently consume more housing (in terms of amount) per person than we do in the UK. Our total expenditure per capita is just 4% lower than that of Austria, for example, but we spend 24% less on housing per person than Austrians do. The equivalent figures for Canada are 2% and 22% respectively.

The think-tank found that homes were located further from jobs than the “majority” of other European nations. They were also older and less well insulated despite the UK government’s plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

‘Expensive, cramped, and ageing’ – and that’s NOT the Tory government

The UK housing crisis, long regarded as one of the country’s most glaring social problems, has been sparked by a historic shortage of affordable housing which has pushed up rents and house prices.

It has been exacerbated by a cost-of-living crisis caused by government-induced high inflation and elevated interest rates. This makes it difficult for Britons to get financing in place to buy a first home.

The UK faces a general election in the second half of 2024, with the main opposition Labour Party tipped by opinion polls to beat prime minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives.

Adam Corlett, principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, said:

Britain’s housing crisis is likely to be a big topic in the election campaign, as parties debate how to address the problems of high costs, poor quality and low security that face so many households.

By looking at housing costs, floorspace and wider issues of quality, we find that the UK’s expensive, cramped and ageing housing stock offers the worst value for money of any advanced economy.

You can read the Resolution Foundation’s full report here.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

Featured image via BBC News – screengrab

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