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Average Household Size Drops to 2.4 People
June 8, 2015Article by Justin Aldridge
The pressure’s on… UK housing sector fit to burst as average household size drops to 2.4 people
The UK needs more houses. Despite their different approaches, this was one fact that all of the contenders in the UK’s recent general election were agreed upon. For the last decade, the country has been building at a slower pace than it needs to in order to meet demand for homes.
In 1961, the average household in Great Britain contained 3.1 people. By 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average home had just 2.4 people in it. Given there are some 26.7 million households in the UK, this shift in size has put massive pressure on the country’s housing stock, pushing up demand even as supply has lagged behind the required levels.
House building in Britain peaked in the 1960’s, when 3,618,850 new dwellings were completed. 1968 alone saw 425,830 homes built, which remains as a record house building year to this day. Fast-forward to the 2000’s and the total number of dwelling completions during the decade had sunk to 1,922,310.
Bricks, not rhetoric
The first half of the 2010s has still not seen enough of an improvement over these levels if demand is to be met any time in the next decade. Despite a great deal of rhetoric before the election, it remains to be seen whether the promises will translate into the actual bricks and mortar that the country so desperately needs.
Savills considered the situation during its Spotlight 2015 Residential Development report, which highlighted an annual shortfall of 136,000 new homes across Britain, 100,000 of them in England. It made a number of recommendations for increasing the number of new dwellings being built, including the delivery of more planning consents in high demand areas, continued support for house builders to increase market capacity, increased land supply and the encouragement of additional building by housing associations, local authorities and large build-to-rent operators. It was Savills view that these measures could increase the rate of building starts to 205,000 in England by 2020, a jump of 46%.
Time to act
Whatever the solution the time to act is now. ONS data has shown that the fastest growing household type in the UK in the decade to 2014 was households containing two or more families. This section of the market grew by some 56% over the course of the decade, highlighting just how great the need for new housing truly is.