Housing in Britain – best value for money.
Over half the people in Britain live in their own houses, about a third live in property rented from the local council and one in eight live in privately-rented accommodation. The total number of dwellings is more than 22 million and houses are much more common than flats. More than 40% of families live in a home built after 1945. Although the number of houses built during the 1980s went down (especially in the public housing sector traditionally provided by local authorities) the number of people owning their own homes has more than trebled in the last 35 years. Under the conservative government many people who previously rented their homes from the local council were given the opportunity to buy them. There tax incentives for people who buy their own houses.
Buying a house is a large financial investment for many people and the majority buys their homes with a mortgages loan from a building society or bank. The loan is repaid in monthly installments over the period of 20 years or more. Some people rent or buy accommodations through housing associations which provide a financial alternative to the mortgage system. There has also been an increase in the amount of accommodation for older people, as the number of pensioners increases. Accommodation known “sheltered housing” provided homes for elderly and disables people.
The standard for housing has improved but while most of the old slum areas in cities have been cleared, many of the large squares of flats which replaced them as part of the high rise housing program of the 1960s have been criticized as being badly designed and built. Some have been pulled down and replaced with low-rise housing. However, because fewer houses were built and more council property was sold off there were fewer houses available, especially for young people and those who could not afford a mortgage. House prices tend to adjust according to how much money people are earning. In Britain the cost of buying somewhere to live varies considerably according to the area.
There are many different types of housing in Britain ranging from the traditional thatched country cottage to flat in the center of towns. Houses are often described by the period in which they were built are whether are terraced, semi-detached or detached. As well as preferring houses to flats, for many people a garden is also an important consideration. Although Britain is relatively small the areas where people live vary considerably: there are new towns and inner cities, suburbs, commuters’ belts and the open country side.
Paying for the home you live in is the biggest single item in the budget of most families and getting on the housing ladder can be difficult.
The average family moves once every seven years and the process of moving involves an estate agent, a building society, bank or insurance company for the finance, and a solicitors to handle the legal aspects of the buying and selling. The size of the house or flat in Britain still tends to be measured by the number of bedrooms rather than the area in square metres. In keeping with a nation of the home owners, gardening is popular spare time activity.
The number of homeless people in Britain has doubled since 1979. Reasons for this rise include the decline in the availability of rented accommodation, lack of council housing due to government cuts in grants to local authorities, who are responsible for public housing and the increase in house prices during the 1980s. Unemployment, changes in the social security benefit regulations and the number of young people leaving home also contributed to the problem. Many local authorities have been forced to put homeless families in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation because of a lack of suitable flats and houses. While real earnings have risen faster than inflation and helped to push up house prices, debt has also increased, helping to leave some of those at the bottom of the seal without a home.
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