It is a well-known fact that home ownership in the UK has been on the decline for many years, but it has often been believed that this phenomenon was only confined to London and the south-east, the areas typically associated with high house prices.

However, new research conducted by the Resolution Foundation shows that while home ownership has certainly declined in these areas, and especially London, the trend is also prevalent in the Midlands and the north, areas traditionally associated with affordable housing and high levels of home ownership. In some cases, home ownership in northern regions has fallen more than in the south.

For example, since 1994, levels of home ownership have fallen by 43 per cent in southern areas such as Bristol, whereas levels of home ownership have fallen by 51 per cent in Greater Manchester, and 52 per cent in West Yorkshire.

Traditionally, it is assumed that falling rate of home ownership is largely due to the high rate of rentals amongst the young, as they cannot afford to purchase their own home. However, the trend of declining home ownership is also affecting middle-aged professionals. In 1992, only 1 in 20 families containing an individual of 35-44 years old rented their home, whereas today, that figure is 1 in 5.

Impact on tradesmen

One obvious consequence of a decline in home ownership is the reduced number of individuals who require the services of tradesmen to build, renovate, and improve their homes. Tradesmen across the UK are experiencing a decline in the availability of contract work with individual home owners, and this trend looks set to continue. More and more often, tradesmen are being contracted by landlords or agencies for use of their services across multiple properties, with the inhabitants of these not being the owners of the residences.

With a decline in the contract work available for tradesmen from individual home owners, there is also a greater focus on contract work for large businesses and corporations. The building and construction industry is shifting its focus away from individual, private properties, and is now becoming centred on large-scale, commercial buildings. Again, this trend shows no signs of abating, as the rate of home ownership in the UK looks set to continue its steady decline.

The rise in rental accommodation could be an obstacle for many tradesmen in the UK. With more and more properties being owned by landlords and rental firms, the market for building and construction workers becomes more restricted. Previously, with a larger amount of individual home owners requiring the services of tradesmen, there were more contract jobs available in the market. Now, a rental firm may employee the services of a tradesmen to work on multiple properties, a job that in years gone by would have provided employment for multiple tradesmen.

It is clear that the building and construction market is becoming more competitive due to the decline in home ownership that is occurring in the UK. Tradesmen need to be aware that their level of employment may become more and more uncertain but is unlikely to diminish. Instead, focussing on commercial properties or securing a long-term contract with a landlord or rental firm could be one way to adapt to the changing market forces.