Unaffordable housing putting a strain on mental health and stopping millions having children, survey says

Sarah Young
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Housing affordability is affecting the wellbeing and life decisions of millions of people across the UK, a new survey suggests.

On Monday, the Affordable Housing Commission (AHC) published findings from a poll of more than 2,000 British adults.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, showed that housing stress is putting a strain on mental health and dictating when people decide to move out from their family home and have children of their own.

One in seven (13 per cent) participants said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by their housing situation, a figure which increased to a quarter (25 per cent) for those living in “unaffordable” housing, where rent or mortgage is equal to more than a third of their total household income.

The research also revealed that 13 per cent of UK adults under the age of 45 who are in a couple have delayed or decided not to have children due to their housing situation – potentially affecting 1.8m people nationally.

Furthermore, nearly a third (31 per cent) of parents with adult children aged 18 and over living at home said they either do not expect their children to move out or believe it could take 10 years to happen.

The data also showed that one in 10 (10 per cent) UK adults now live with family or friends. This rises to almost one in five (18 per cent) for 25-34 year-olds.

Lord Richard Best, chair of the Affordable Housing Commission, which was set up by think tank the Smith Institute and is funded by the Nationwide Foundation, said: “The housing system is hindering, not helping, millions of people - particularly those who are putting off big life decisions because of it.

"Unaffordable housing, especially in the private rented sector, is now a serious strain on people's mental health and a barrier to having a better life.

He continued: “We need a fundamental rethink and structural change to rebalance it and ensure it works now and for future generations.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told the BBC that since 2010, the government has delivered more than 464,000 new affordable homes, including 114,000 social homes.

In addition to this, they stated that the social housing waiting list has decreased by 40 per cent since 2012.

“Last year we delivered more homes than any year in the last 30 years and have committed to delivering a million more in this parliament,” the spokesperson said.

"We have also abolished the council borrowing cap so local authorities are able to continue to build more social homes, giving families the chance to find somewhere that is safe and secure."

Earlier this month, it was reported that a majority of property agents have witnessed a rise in house prices for the first time in 18 months.

According to the industry body the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the number of surveyors reporting an increase outnumbered those seeing a fall by 19 per cent, almost double the 11 per cent seen in the previous survey.

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