Build us more shared ownership homes, say key workers

Most key workers – such as teachers, carers and NHS staff – believe there is not enough affordable housing in their area and would specifically like more shared ownership homes to be built, according to a new survey.

The study by housing association Aster Group, of 2,000 people across Great Britain, found that 67% of key workers* agreed there is a lack of affordable housing, which includes social and affordable rent and shared ownership. The proportion is slightly more than for the wider population (64%), who also agreed more affordable homes are needed across the country.

The data comes just as the new Labour government unveils its plan for housing.

When provided with information about how shared ownership housing works, 69% of key workers agreed more properties of this tenure should be built, compared to 60% for the country as a whole.

With shared ownership, people buy an amount of equity in a home while paying rent on the remainder. The tenure allows them to ‘staircase’ – increase their equity stake over time – with the potential to reach full ownership. People securing a home through shared ownership typically need a smaller deposit than needed when buying a home in the traditional way.

Amanda Williams, Chief Investment Officer of Aster, said: “The pandemic shone a light on the invaluable role key workers, from nurses and teachers to carers, play in our society. Yet it’s clear they’re recognising a real shortage of affordable housing where they live and, once they understand how shared ownership works, they see it as part of the solution.

“A broad range of housing tenures will always be crucial because people need choice to find the right option to suit their individual needs and circumstances. We believe shared ownership should always be in the mix because it’s flexible, secure, aspirational and offers a good alternative to renting privately. Thanks to recent reforms to the tenure – such as enabling people to staircase in smaller increments – shared ownership is now even more accessible.”

The data also shows demand for shared ownership was slightly higher in Greater London (66%) than the national average.

Amanda added: “The shared ownership market is very different in London. We see from our own experience that higher demand, as highlighted by our survey, reflects the more acute affordability challenges there.

“But it is also indicative of a system where shared ownership schemes in the capital are too often regarded as more of a temporary fix, rather than the home for life that it is in other areas of the country, including across the south of England which is our operating heartland. Outside of London, shared ownership properties are more likely to be houses, not the apartments normally found in the city, which better lend themselves to laying down roots and making a long-term home.”

 Aster Group owns and maintains over 37,000 homes across the south of England. In the past decade it has built over 8,500 affordable homes, including 3,400 shared ownership properties.

 *Censuswide on behalf of Aster Group polled 2,010 adults in Great Britain between 13th and 15th May 2024. A total of 343 people self-selected as key workers, a category that included NHS, police, fire service, ambulance worker, teacher, carer and other roles in the NHS and the education sector.

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