JAM families squeezed on home buying

Research puts Britain near the bottom of an international home ownership league table for households with incomes slightly below the national average.

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Britain’s JAM families aren’t as sweet on home-buying as counterparts around the world, research reveals.

That research puts Britain near the bottom of an international home ownership league table for households with incomes slightly below the national average.

In Britain those families are ‘just about managing’ or JAMS.

And less than half of them are now on the property ladder, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data.

The OECD definition of  a ‘middle income’ family is a family worse-off than 60% of families, but better off than the poorest 20%.

By that definition, the organisation placed Britain 32nd out of 37 nations, lagging behind such countries as Romania, Croatia and Mexico, for households in the ‘second quintile’ of income – those worse-off than 60% of families, but better off than the poorest 20%.

The OECD calculated that 49.5% of families in that bracket were buying their homes, compared with 62.7% in Canada, 56.2% in the United States and 54.7% in France.

It also put the UK just 27th in the league table for all income groups.

House prices across much of the country have tripled in the last two decades and first-time buyers typically have to spend between six and 12 times their salary to get on the housing ladder – double the proportion in the mid-1990s.

John Healey, the shadow housing minister, accused ministers of giving up on helping young people afford their first home saying:“Soaring house prices have outstripped growth in pay packets and it’s become harder for many young people to get a mortgage.

“Meanwhile the number of government-funded affordable homes to buy has fallen to the lowest level in over a decade.”

The Resolution Foundation has calculated that in 1997 a low or middle income household needed to put money aside for three years to afford the deposit on their first home.

Today it would take the equivalent household 20 years.

Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the foundation, said: “Clearly this problem cannot be solved without a sensible rebalancing of housing costs and earnings. “But when many on low incomes currently need to save for decades in order to buy their first home, action to improve security and reduce costs in the private rented sector is welcome too.”

The number of home-owning families has fallen by 200,000 since 2010, with a particularly steep drop among households aged under 35.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “This government has halted the decline in home ownership which started in 2003, with the number of first-time buyers increasing by 59% since 2009.

“Since 2010 more than 362,000 households have been helped by the government to buy a property. We know there’s more to be done. The best way to do this is to build more of the homes that people want, and that’s what this government is doing.”

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