Housing Horizons: Examining UK Housing Stock in an International Context

5 Oct, 2023

Housing Horizons: Examining UK Housing Stock in an International Context

Our new report, Housing Horizons: Examining UK Housing Stock in an International Context, has established just how far the UK has fallen behind its European and OECD counterparts with regards to the condition, affordability, and age of its housing stock.

Through analysis of data from the OECD, European Union and UK Government, the report demonstrates the difficulties facing people trying to find a decent and affordable home.

A summary of the report’s key findings can be found below.


  • The UK is a very unaffordable place to buy or rent a home, and increasingly so.
  • House prices in the UK have been growing faster than incomes and this disparity is greater than when compared to the EU benchmark.
  • In other European nations incomes have kept pace much better with house prices, such as in Belgium and France, or house prices have fallen slightly proportionally with income, such as in Finland, making both rental and purchase more affordable.
  • The UK is home the second most people living in households that are paying more than 40% of their income on housing in Europe.
  • In 2018, the year for which the latest data is available, this stood at 10 million,
  • This 10 million equates to 15.1% of the UK population spending more than 40% of their income on housing. This proportion is 4.8 percentage points higher than the EU average of 10.3%.
  • An average of 934,000 people have been pushed into housing overburden each year in the UK in the six years between 2012 and 2018.


  • England has far fewer dwellings relative to its population than other developed nations we typically consider peers, with 434 homes per thousand inhabitants, significantly fewer than France (590), Italy (587) and the OECD average of 487.
  • This dearth of properties makes England the most difficult place in the developed world to find a home, with the rate of available properties per member of the population at less than 1%, the lowest rate of all OECD countries.


  • The UK also has amongst the oldest housing in Europe, with 78% of homes having been built before 1980, compared with an EU average of 61%, and 38% of the UK’s housing stock being built before 1946, compared with an EU average of 18%.


  • This has an impact on the condition of homes.
  • 15% of English homes failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard in 2020. This is the highest proportion of substandard homes in Europe, and significantly higher than many other countries including Germany (12%), Bulgaria (11%), Lithuania (11%) and Poland (6%).


  • Home ownership fell by seven percentage points to 65% in the 17 years to 2021, while over the same period home ownership grew in many nations including Italy (grew by 5.8 percentage points to 73.7%), the Netherlands (grew by 14.7 percentage points to 70.1%) and Slovakia (grew by 2 percentage points to 92.3%).

International Audit Digital v2

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