Transport, housing, domestic energy: an affordability crisis in the UK?

The electoral campaign is over, but it is easy to predict that questions of living standards and affordability will continue to be debated in the UK.
The parties’ housing policies have been under intense scrutiny (see here and here) as opinion surveys show that “69% of people believe the UK is bereft of affordable housing“. A comprehensive study on “Housing in 2040” sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation concludes that, “unless some of the trends in housing policy are reversed” (including a rapid increase in house building rates):

the link between income poverty and housing deprivation is likely to strengthen, with housing costs becoming a more important cause of poverty, and the experience of poverty more likely to be combined with the experience of housing deprivation

Affordable housing may be scarce in the UK, but how does it compare to other European countries? Poorly, according to a 2012 CECODHAS report on “Housing affordability in the EU”.

Housing costs

If we look at domestic energy costs and fuel poverty, the comparison is also unflattering. The table below is taken from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) fact-file, significantly titled “The Cold Man of Europe“.


Transport costs have not drawn much attention recently, probably because of the 2014 oil price drop. For a number of years, however, they have been a cause of concern, leading for example Sustrans to plea for the official recognition of “transport poverty”.
Indeed, findings from a 2013 Eurobarometer on urban mobility suggest that 83% of Britons (higher than the EU average) find “travelling costs within cities” an important problem.


This is problematic, as transport costs add to housing costs, and the price of oil might be seeing a recovery.

In this blog, we will comment on questions of transport affordability and how they relate to spending for housing and domestic energy – so watch this space.


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