Media Release: Millions of Britons delay having children as housing shortage hits home, says charity

OVER a million people (1) in Britain say they have delayed having children because of a lack of affordable housing, according to new research from Shelter Scotland and Shelter.

Says a spokesperson: “The leading housing and homelessness charity says its Life Stages Report conducted by YouGov shows that one in four (26 per cent) of 18-30 year olds – equivalent to 1.4 million people nationwide – say that the lack of affordable housing has led them to delay having children.

“One in five 31-44 year olds who currently don’t have any children – equivalent to 1.1 million people nationwide –say they are delaying starting a family because of the lack of affordable housing.
Shelter Scotland says this is a 63 per cent increase among 31-44 year olds from the last time the Life Stages survey was conducted in 2009 (2).

“According to the research more 26 per cent of those delaying having children say they have been doing so for five years or more.”

Gordon MacRae, head of Communications and Policy at Shelter Scotland, said:

“The lack of secure and affordable housing in Scotland is having an impact at every level of Scotland’s society.

“Sadly, an increasing number of people are finding that despite working hard and saving hard, they’re still priced out of a secure and affordable home, trapped in private rented housing where landlords can evict them with little notice or raise the rent at any time.

“We know that many simply don’t think this is a stable environment to raise a family.

“The Scottish Government has a responsibility to act now to ensure that today’s young people and the generation after them are not denied something as basic as the right to a family life with a safe, affordable and secure home to raise their children in.

“Scotland needs to build more affordable homes to ensure the aspirations of an entire generation are not squandered. It’s time to end Scotland’s housing crisis for good.”

The spokesperson: “According to Shelter Scotland a lack of socially-rented homes, high house prices and the large deposits required by lenders mean that growing numbers of people are unable to buy a home.

“Recent figures show that one in three first time buyers is now over the age of 37 (3). Those who bought their first home in the early 1960s were on average 23 years old.

“Meanwhile, 272,653 of families and individuals in Scotland now call the private rented sector home. By 2020, one in five UK households is expected to rent privately.”


Notes to Editors

1.  In August 2012 Shelter commissioned YouGov to conduct a nationally representative survey that asked 5,379 GB adults if they were delaying having children because of a lack of affordable housing, with 20 per cent of 31-44 year olds who don’t have children (equivalent to 1.1million) responding that they are. In an earlier YouGov survey, 5,438 GB adults in October 2009 were asked the same question and per cent of 31-44 year olds (equivalent to 694,000) without children were delaying having children because of a lack of affordable housing.  Both surveys were carried out online and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

2.  For the 2009 survey, the estimate of the number affected based on 2009 population estimates from the Office of National Statistics which indicate that there are 47.6 million adults in Great Britain.–england-and-wales–scotland-and-northern-ireland/2009/ (open file named ‘mid-2009-unformatted-data-file’).

For the 2012 survey, the estimate is based on 2010 population estimates (the latest available) from the Office of National Statistics which indicate that there are 47.8 million adults in Great Britain. (open file named ‘mid-2010-unformatted-data-file’). Estimates have been rounded. Comparing the estimates indicates that a further 444,000 adults say they are delaying having children because of a lack of affordable housing. This is an increase of approx 63 per cent between October 2009 and August 2012.

3.  The National Housing Federation has calculated the average age of a first-time buyer is 37 years.

4.  All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size for the 2012 was 5379 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th-14th August 2012. Total sample size for the 2009 survey was 5,438 GB adults and fieldwork was conducted between 23rd-26th October 2009. Both surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Extra analysis and population equivalents have been calculated by Shelter.

5.  Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support, visit or call 0808 800 4444.

6.   Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.

7.   Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – Twitter –

Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.

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Contact: Shelter Scotland