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Comparing houses: ours are smaller, older, colder, less convenient

Comparing houses and related quality of life in rich countries, an independent think tank* finds us near the bottom of the class.

It seems we have less floor space per person, less convenient locations, the oldest stock in Europe and relatively poor insulation. All this with high prices and, for many, impossibly high rents.

Citizens Advice wants all party election manifestos to contain major reform proposals. The CAEE research team has been looking at Epsom & Ewell in light of this downbeat picture.

E&E: better but…

As we would hope (and expect) things aren’t quite so depressing here. More E&E residents own their homes, 36% outright (England 32.5%), 38% with a mortgage, loan, or a share (29%). Yet all local costs are high in a market heavily influenced by London:

  • prices are among the highest anywhere;
  • mortgagors face steep repayment rises;
  • private rents account for ever greater shares of household income;
  • the council’s budget is stretched by the requirement to provide temporary accommodation for higher numbers of people finding themselves homeless.

A key point here: home owners outnumber renters 3 to 1, but our Advisers help far more renters. The top issues are housing debts, rent, landlord relations and more linked to the wider cost-of-living crisis.

The need for action is now urgent. We have raised many of the issues in our housing campaign.

Behind so many client problems lies an inadequate and unaffordable national housing stock which may also be the underlying cause of the country’s worst social and economic problems.

We hope the next government will prioritise housing reform and better lives for millions of citizens, including not a few neighbours.

* Resolution Foundation, Housing Outlook Q1 March 2024.

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