‘Generation rent’ locked out of the property market for more than a decade, research shows

The study looked at earnings, house prices, rents, and spending on essentials in local authorities across the country to show the true extent of the challenge faced by households wanting to save up for a deposit to buy a home in their area.
Nationally, it found that couples who start a family in their twenties could be saving for a deposit for 12 years – nearly double the time faced by childless couples. In some cases this could mean their children would be in secondary school before they own a home.

Couples without a child face an average of six and a half years of saving, and almost double that time in London (11 years). 

Single people face the greatest barriers to home ownership. A single person could need over 14 years to save enough for a deposit unless they can find a partner, trapping many in uncertain private renting or forcing them to live with their parents well into adulthood.

The report also reveals dramatic regional variations in the time it takes first-time buyers to save in different parts of the country:

• In nearly two thirds of areas in England (60%), couples with a child could face over a decade of saving for a deposit for a home of their own;
• London is badly affected – with single people facing an average of 30 years of saving, while couples with children face 21 years;
• The problem is not confined to the capital – high outgoings and house prices combined with lower incomes mean couples with a child in Devon, Cornwall and Leicester would need longer to save for a deposit than the same couple living in some areas of London.

Shelter has created an online calculator for people to find out how long it would take them or their children to save for a home of their own in their area, based on their individual circumstances.
Lauren Pinney, 28, from Brighton, said: “My husband Ivan and I have tried everything to save for a deposit. We moved out of our one-bedroom flat and tried living with my parents for a while. Now we live in a flatshare with friends to keep costs as low as possible, but with bills, rent and the cost of living going up, it’s just impossible.
“We both earn decent salaries, but it’s just not the same as it was in my parents’ generation. We want to start a family but we’ve had to resign ourselves to the fact that saving for both a child and deposit is not going to happen and we may never own a home of our own.”
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “This is the first time research like this has been conducted at a local level to reveal the harsh realities that ‘generation rent’ is having to confront because of our shortage of affordable homes.
“Despite working hard and saving what they can each month, today’s young people face life-changing choices between starting a family or buying a home of their own. Imagine a 28 year old couple weighing up their options: they can save for a home now and put off starting a family until they’re 35, or they can start a family now but accept they’ll be renting until their child is a teenager.
“Meanwhile, single people face an added pressure to either find a partner or to live with their parents well into their thirties if they’re ever to have a hope of saving enough for a deposit.
“It seems the only ones with any hope left are the few who can resort to the bank of mum and dad. But with so many parents already feeling the squeeze, this is not a sustainable option.
“When we have young people working hard to save up for a home of their own to no avail, it is obvious that the government has to start meeting people halfway. Unless we see radical action to tackle our chronic shortage of affordable homes, the next generation of young people will find it even harder to find a place to call their own.”
Recent figures released earlier this month show that the number of affordable homes completed in 2012/13 was down by 29% from the previous year, contributing to a chronic undersupply of homes which forces up rents and pushes house prices and deposits further out of reach.

Notes to Editors

1. Shelter has created an online calculator at www.shelter.org.uk/homecalculator where people can compare their salaries to house prices in their area to calculate how long it will take for them or their children to save for a mortgage deposit.

2. Regional breakdown of the length of time it would take a working couple to save for a deposit in their local area:


Average first-time buyer house price

Average first-time buyer deposit size


Years for a couple to save average deposit

Years for a couple with a child to save average deposit

Years for a single person to save for a deposit

North East






North West






Yorkshire and The Humber






East Midlands






West Midlands


















South East






South West



























3. This research models the finances of 22-29 year olds across England who are either in a working couple, a couple with a child where one partner works full time and the other works part time, and single people. To calculate the length of time these groups need to save for a mortgage deposit, the research compares their disposable income with typical house prices and deposits for first time buyers in their local area.

4. House price data was collected from The Land Registry for England’s House Price Index at end December 2012.

5. Calculating the time to save a deposit involves several assumptions: house price growth, earnings growth, return on savings, how much can be saved out of discretionary income and deposit. Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for house prices, earnings growth and Libor were used to uprate costs into the future. For more information, please see the report ‘A Home of Their Own’ available from the Shelter press office.

6. Rent, council tax, child care costs, food, transport and utilities of these groups are drawn from official government statistics. Full methodology including data sources is detailed in the report ‘A Home of Their Own’ available from the Shelter press office.

7. Current levels of affordable housing starts showing that the number of affordable homes completed in 2012/13 was down by 29% are based on the latest DCLG Affordable housing starts and completions report.

8. The percentage of counties and unitary authorities in which couples with a child could face more than a decade of saving is 60%.
9. The report findings are based on research, commissioned by Shelter and undertaken by Fionnuala Earley Consulting, which modelled the length of time it would take typical households to save a deposit for their first home under certain assumptions.


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