Young people need more modern housing choices

The RSA has said that there needs to be more modern housing options for young people, claiming that affordable housing isn’t actually affordable for young people.

Partnering with OneManchester to explore the housing experiences, and challenges, of young people in Manchester, the organisation found that a third of young renters in England – and almost half in Greater Manchester – have had to cut back on food, drink or other activities in order to cover their housing costs. Others reported taking on a second job, taking out loans or living somewhere unsuitable or unsafe.

Discussing the Greater Manchester region, the report, Making Home, suggests exploring a Housing Affordability Deal, which would bring local considerations into the definition of affordability and housing benefit levels. It would also include the power to create ‘Rental Pressure Zones’, a locally defined cap on the rate of increase of rent prices.

The paper calls on Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to create new models and routes to homeownership, which could be rolled out across England.

The report also warns that the current housing market is making young people feel insecure, hasn’t kept up with the changing world of work and is lacking options other than just renting or buying. It proposes ‘Escalator Ownership’, which combines two existing housing models: Rent to Buy and Shared Ownership.

Hannah Webster, author of the report, said: “We need to see new routes to let young people put down roots - including lowering the entry bar for shared ownership from 25 per cent to just one per cent and offering reduced rent to give room to save, would provide much more security than existing options, as well as a route to ownership. There is a greater role for housing associations in providing rent-to-buy options and council-run lettings agencies need to be established which act on behalf of renters and not just landlords.

“A new Greater Manchester housing devolution deal should give mayors and councils Scottish-style powers to cap runaway rents in areas like central Manchester. These ‘rent pressure zones’ would help those facing steep rents in certain neighbourhoods, without taking the step of introducing rent controls across the board. In Greater Manchester we suggest that individual councils have the opportunity to propose and review potential zones.”