UK housing offers worst value for money among advanced economies, report reveals

A report by the Resolution Foundation think tank has unveiled alarming findings about the state of housing in the UK, describing it as “expensive, cramped, and ageing,” and offering the worst value for money compared to other advanced economies.

The analysis compared British housing with 37 other industrialised nations within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It revealed that, on average, people in England reside in smaller homes compared to counterparts in France, Germany, and Japan. Despite this, the cost of housing in the UK surpasses that of comparable countries by nearly 40%.

The foundation labelled the situation a “crisis” and urged political parties to prioritise policies addressing the housing problem in the upcoming election. Key points highlighted in the report include the smaller size and older age of UK homes in comparison to those in other countries. For instance, homes in England have an average floor space per person of 38 sq m, significantly lower than countries like the US (66 sq m) and Germany (46 sq m). Moreover, the report noted that 38% of UK homes were built before 1946, leading to issues such as poor insulation, higher energy bills, and increased risk of dampness.

The report also emphasised the high cost of housing in the UK, with households having to allocate a substantial portion of their spending towards housing services. Adjusting for differences in gross domestic product per head, the UK’s housing prices were found to be the most expensive among the countries studied.

Adam Corlett, principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, stressed the severity of the housing crisis in the UK, attributing it to decades of inadequate housing policies and insufficient construction of new homes.

In response to these concerns, Labour has pledged to prioritize housing if elected, focusing on making it more challenging for residents to oppose developments. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party aims to increase house building in urban areas to meet demand and plans to assist first-time buyers in entering the housing market.

The government, through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, emphasised its commitment to addressing housing issues, citing ongoing initiatives such as the Renters Reform Bill and investments in affordable housing programs. However, the report underscores the need for substantial reforms to tackle the deep-rooted challenges in the UK housing market.

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