Research reveals housing difficulties of young people

Centrepoint polled 1,600 adults, whose ages ranged from 18 to 69.


New research by Centrepoint reveals the housing difficulties experienced by young people compared with previous generations.

The youth homelessness charity polled 1,600 UK adults from those who reached adulthood in the 1970s to young people today, reflecting the five generations of young people that have passed through Centrepoint’s doors since it was founded 50 years ago.

Centrepoint split its findings into five key areas:



The research found that almost half (46%) of young people today who have left home moved into private rented accommodation, compared with 25% of those now in their sixties.

Only 8% of young people today first move into a home they own, compared with 27% of people now in their sixties.

In this area, the research concluded that, with the decline of social housing, more young people are reliant on the private sector, the average millennial spending an estimated £44,000 more on rent than the average baby boomer did. However, only a fifth of private landlords would consider letting to them.


Independent living

The research found that more than a third of young people (36%) spend more than half their income on housing costs when they first move out, compared with 14% of those now in their sixties.

Almost all people now in their sixties (97%) had an income that covered their housing costs if they paid for it themselves when they first left home, but a quarter (23%) of young people today do not.

The proportion of people spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs has doubled, from 32% of people now in their sixties when they first moved out, to 65% of young people today.

While the cost of housing has increased, incomes have not kept pace. Young people are entitled to lower benefit rates for their housing, and these rates have been frozen for three years while rents have increased steadily.


Financial support

The research found that the proportion of young people whose rent is or was paid by someone else (excluding partners) when they first moved out has risen from 1% to 20% over the last 50 years.

The proportion of young people relying on income contributions from parents and grandparents has jumped from 11% and 2% respectively to 27% and 9% over the same period.

Children in PRS

The research found that 32% of young people today grew up in the private rented sector, compared with just 9% of people now in their sixties.

The proportion of people who grew up in social rented housing has halved from 34% of people now in their sixties, to just 17% of young people today.

‘Generation rent’ is commonly associated with young professionals in their twenties. However, the research demonstrates that more children are growing up in the private rented sector, with a corresponding reduction in the proportion growing up in social housing.


Moving back home

The research found that the proportion of young people moving back into their family home after first moving out has doubled over the past 50 years, from 24% to 48%.

Saving money is the number one reason (31%) for young people today moving back home.



The research found that the proportion of people who have been homeless, sofa-surfed or stayed somewhere they felt unsafe before they were 25 has increased from 12% to 26% over the past 50 years. Sofa-surfing itself has increased from 8% to 20%.

In 2017/18, an estimated 103,000 young people in the UK approached their local authority for help because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Commenting on the findings, Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin, said: “Our research shows that in the 50 years since Centrepoint was founded, it has become much, much more difficult for young people to leave home and live independently.

“The high cost of housing, increased reliance on the private rented sector and the need to depend on multiple sources of income are challenges all young people in the UK face.”

Obakin continued: “But for the homeless young people Centrepoint supports, who cannot move back home or depend on financial support from family members, these challenges can be insurmountable.

“We all want to live in a society that opens doors for the next generation, rather than forcing them onto the street.”

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