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Housing Affordability in UK

INTRODUCTION

A literature review is research into the current literature available on any given topic. A review is generally conducted prior to a theses or a dissertation, but sometimes stands on its own as an individual piece of academic work. They can be lengthy or brief (as in this case) and are often used to provide insight into a topic and reveal where additional research is required. The literature used in this review was found in a number of ways. First, an online database (EBSCO) provides access to a broad range of academic journals such as Housing and Urban Studies. Articles from both of these journals were used. Second, an Internet search for research reports on the topic was also used, alongside a review of government documents. Research and policy papers produced by the government assist in a broader understanding of the ways in which the topic is being handled (or not) at the highest levels of authority.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

One of the key aspects of housing affordability is the direct connection between supply and demand. Lovell (2005) tackles this issue in her analysis of the current situation in the UK housing market. One of the patterns she notes is that UK consumers are becoming deeply concerned over the carbon footprint that we leave behind a- in other words, the direct environmental impact of human living and resource use. She notes there is an increasing demand for 'sustainable housing' and 'eco-housing'; the types of homes that are more energy efficient and use far less resources to build and maintain. However, the availability of these houses is extremely low. Lovell points out that approximately 90% of all housing is built by the private sector and almost 75% of all housing is privately owned. In her estimation there is indeed a fairly large consumer market available for and capable of paying for low energy housing, but the market has not replied. She suggests that one of the reasons for that is:

THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Most recently, the global economic crisis has come into play as a factor in the housing market. There has been a world-wide loss of confidence in the banking system and this has affected the availability of mortgage credit. The ways in which this will play out for the future have yet to be fully understood or analyzed. As the housing crisis builds, there has been more consumer involvement. Many are not content to sit back and leave it to the government to enforce their own solutions on the situation. Hickman (2006) notes that since the crisis of the 1990's there has been a market increase in consumer involvement in the housing issues. Tenant participation in the housing issue has been especially important with respect to conditions in rental units. Authorities have also recognized the importance of the consumer voice and the rights of tenants (Hickman 2006). Their voices will become even more crucial as the number of people seeking rental units increases relative to the number of spaces available.

GAPS IN THE RESEARCH

Some of the issues that will need to be addressed in the near future are: the ways in which people of diverse cultures are affected by the housing shortage - will people of specific cultures be left behind due to chronically low incomes? There is also the concern over persons with disabilities and their ability to maintain stable employment and thus reduce the amount of social housing they use but increase the number of rental units or homes they require. There is also the need to study the environmental impact of building 200,000 plus homes in England over the next twelve years. That represents a significant impact on resources and therefore the need for more sustainable and eco-housing which is how this review began. In the long term, sustainable and low-energy housing may be one of the keys to England's growing housing needs.

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