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Unaffordable housing putting strain on mental health, survey suggests

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

One in seven couples aged under 45 have put off having children or not had them at all due to their housing situation, a survey has found.

Some 13% of UK adults under the age of 45 and in a couple have delayed or not had children due to their housing situation, according to a YouGov poll undertaken for the Affordable Housing Commission.

And nearly a third (31%) of parents with adult children aged 18-plus living at home either do not expect them to move out or believe it will take 10 years or more.

The survey of more than 2,100 people found that 10% of adults now live with family or friends, rising to nearly one in five (18%) for 25 to 34-year-olds.

One in seven (13%) people surveyed said their mental health had been negatively affected by their housing situation, rising to a quarter (25%) for those living in “unaffordable” housing, where rent or mortgage equal more than a third of their total household income.

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.

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

Lord Best is a past chief executive of the National Housing Federation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He was also president of the Local Government Association (LGA) for nine years.

The Commission is due to publish recommendations in March 2020.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “Since 2010 this Government has delivered over 464,000 new affordable homes, including 141,000 social homes.

“In addition to this, the social housing waiting list has decreased by 40% 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.

“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.”