26 Jul 2021

Four major action groups launched to find new ways to tackle the UK housing crisis

  • Pandemic compounds existing issues, from rising house prices to a growing divide between owners and renters
  • Nationwide Building Society takes broad approach by working across sectors and industries to find solutions
  • Society joins raft of respected organisations and experts in housing, from Barratt Developments to Shelter
  • Action groups aim to help find solutions to issues around housing affordability, accessibility and sustainability

More than 25 major organisations have joined forces to tackle the UK housing crisis by forming action groups that will collaborate to help solve existing and future problems.

Led by Nationwide Building Society, the mutual approach to solving problems in the housing system comes as the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding issues around the affordability, accessibility and sustainability of homes. It is hoped that the four action groups will find ways of building more homes, delivering more of the right types of homes and encouraging more green homes, ensuring everyone can have a place more than fit to call home, whether owned or rented.

According to Nationwide Building Society’s new Future of Home report, nearly two thirds (63%) of people say the UK has a housing crisis, rising to 71 per cent of private renters.

The report findings* demonstrate the need for a joint approach that doesn’t just rely on government for the answer. Published a week after restrictions were lifted, the Ipsos MORI research1 factors in many of the views from more than 50 contributors2 as it sets out the problems within the sector and points towards some of the potential solutions as a precursor to future action. Contributors were spread across multiple sectors. As well as encompassing a range of housing developers, bodies and organisations, those who lent their expertise also included the likes of Accenture, NatWest, Coventry Building Society and the Nationwide Foundation (see full list in Notes to Editor).

Nationwide is today announcing a significant step forward as it partners with in excess of 25 organisations involved in the report to form dedicated action groups that will set out to tackle the housing crisis across four core themes – New Homes, Green Homes, Rental and Delivery of Homes, with national efforts to meet housing targets continuing to fall short due to a range of factors, such as a shortage of skills and supply.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The action group members have a variety of views and positions on housing, which will provide the right conditions for debate and consensus that can be used to create potential solutions. They include: ARLA Propertymark, Barratt Developments, Building Societies Association, Chartered Institute of Housing, Connells Group, CPRE, the countryside charity; Energiesprong UK, E.ON, Federation of Master Builders, Homes for Good, Lord Best, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Midas Construction, Mi-Space, MoneySavingExpert.com, Nationwide Foundation, NRLA, PricedOut, Rockwool, Shelter, Switchd, Trustmark, UK Green Building Council.

Sara Bennison, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Nationwide Building Society, said: “The pandemic served to highlight the importance of home for all of us although, as our Future of Home research showed, it also exacerbated many of the issues which have bedevilled the housing system for years.  I have been so heartened by the generosity of time and spirit shown by all the organisations who joined us for a series of roundtables on the subject. The challenge was how can we move from rehearsing the problems of the past to coming up with practical, workable solutions in the future. By thinking about the whole system together and not just the individual components where each organisation plays, we are genuinely excited by the ideas these action groups can table for the mutual good of all.”

Nationwide is calling for members, experts and the wider public to give their views on what is broken in the housing market and what potential solutions there are by emailing futureofhome@nationwide.co.uk.

The four action groups encompass:

  1. New homes: Increasing the number of new homes built across all tenures, ensuring they meet the needs of first-time buyers, home movers and downsizers, and meeting high energy-efficiency standards.

The challenge: Around two million more households would own a home if the UK had been able to maintain home ownership at 2003 peak (64%). Today, ownership is even further away due to Covid as buyers struggle to raise deposits. Smarter taxes and incentives could make the housing market work better for all. Responding to trends such as homeworking, multi-generational living and smaller households could also ease pressures on housing. More affordable housing is a must, but it needs to be balanced across all types of homeowners.

  1. Green homes: Delivering practical solutions and policies to help people green their homes. Building awareness of the problem, closing the skills gap and making sure it’s fairly financed.

The challenge: Encouraging greater public-private sector collaboration to reach net zero, with consumer incentivisation and support at the heart of this. Fair and affordable green funding formula is urgently needed while the eco-complexity standing in the way of sustainable homes must be addressed. Currently, the average first-time buyer property costs 5.6 times the average income compared to the long run average of 3.7 – a figure which hasn’t been true for 20 years.

  1. Rental: Creating a private rented sector (PRS) that works for the mutual good of landlords and renters potentially including better access to justice, a national landlord register and reform of tenancy deposit.

The challenge: The inequalities between homeowners and renters that were magnified by Covid need to be addressed. Rental has grown significantly over the years – 64 per cent of households were homeowners in 2003 compared to just 57 per cent now. However, many renters face an uphill struggle to save for a deposit, with a typical first-time buyer property deposit equating to 56 per cent of the typical annual wage.

Beyond home ownership, more must be done to reform the PRS to deliver better availability and affordability. More options need to be made available for renters, such as more social housing.

  1. Delivery: Speeding up the delivery of new homes by removing inefficiencies in the system, building trust between parties and adopting more agile approaches.

The challenge: The housebuilding process needs to be modernised to deliver the homes we need. At the centre of this is a need to create the modern skills and expertise required to build homes that are fit for the future and to develop supply chains that can handle volume and quality – from local to national firms. But even if the homes can be built, the UK sorely lacks the skilled labour to deliver them. According to the Federation of Master Builders, there were 3,000 fewer building apprenticeships started in the academic year 2020/21, with 20 per cent of practising builders in their 50s and 15 per cent in their 60s. Two thirds of SME builders report shortages of bricklayers. On the supply side, figures from UK Construction PMI highlight 90 per cent of UK construction companies reported price increases in materials and shortages and that supply delivery times have never been longer.

Notes to editors

1 Technical note: Ipsos MORI conducted online interviews with 2,985 people aged 16-75 living in the UK between 18 and 21 June 2021. Data have been weighted to the known profile of the UK population. Further detail can be found on the Ipsos MORI website or by emailing michael.clemence@ipsos.com.

2 Report contributors: Contributors included: 10x, Accenture, American Express, ARLA Propertymark, B&Q, Barratt Developments, Building Societies Association, Cast Consultancy, Chartered Institute of Housing, Connells Group, Coventry Building Society, CPRE, the countryside charity; Create Sheets, E.ON, Energiesprong UK, Federation of Master Builders, Financial Services Consumer Panel, Homes for Good, IBM, Igloo, Infosys, Ipsos MORI, Kingfisher, KPMG, L&G Modular, LGA, Lord Best, LV=, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Mi-Space, Midas Construction, MoneySavingExpert.com, Museum of the Home, Nationwide Foundation, NatWest, NRLA, Penoyre & Prasad, Pimco, PricedOut, Prince’s Countryside Fund, Publicis Sapient, RetrofitWorks, Rightmove, Rockwool, Shelter, Swindon Borough Council, Switchd, TCPA, Trustmark, UCL, UK Green Building Council, Visa, Yorkshire Building Society.

*                                                                                            Future of Home report breakdown

The Future of Home report explores the three areas of Availability, Affordability and Sustainability in depth. Stats include:


  • 24% of renters say it is less likely they will be able to buy their own home post pandemic.
  • 33% of Generation Z (those aged 25 and under) agree that older people living in properties that are larger than they need should sell their homes so other who need them more can buy them (35% disagree).
  • 33% of renters say the pandemic has made ownership a more important aspiration, rising to 42% of private renters.
  • 37% of private renters say their current accommodation does not feel like home and they are looking to move.
  • 38% of private renters say they would prefer to rent socially rather than privately (28% disagree).
  • 1 in 5 would like to live in a multi-generational household.
  • 3 most important things renters look for in a new property: rent costs (53%); condition of property (35%); trustworthy landlord (28%).


  • 70% of homeowners live in their ‘forever home’ - somewhere that feels like home and where they want to stay for the long term. However, only half of private renters (48%) feel the same.
  • 68% of all renters don’t believe they will ever be able to afford a home of their own.
  • 27% of private renters say Covid-19 has made it less likely that they will be able to buy a home in the future.
  • 10% of renters say the pandemic has made it more likely they will be able to purchase a first property.
  • 35% say they are unable to cover the mortgage and costs such as home insurance and service charges.
  • 64% of renters say they are renting instead of buying because of issues related to the costs associated with getting a property including upfront costs like stamp duty, mortgage fees, an inability to buy in an area where they want to live, as well as concerns around ongoing repair and maintenance costs of homeownership.


  • 55% are unconcerned with carbon emissions of their home, rising to 69% of baby boomers (those aged 56+).
  • 49% of UK homeowners haven’t done anything about home energy efficiency in the past five years.
  • 43% say the energy efficiency of their home has become more important during the pandemic.
  • 61% of homeowners are interested in making their homes greener by making changes.
  • 25% of those who have not made any green changes to their homes in the past five years say this is because the costs of making their home greener are not worth the benefit.
  • 27% of those who have made green improvements say it was difficult to find out information about the options and support that are available
  • 32% of those who have made green improvements say it was difficult to find contractors to do the work.
  • 23% of homeowners say they have installed more energy-efficient windows and doors in the past five years, 21% say more insulation, 19% have upgraded to a more efficient boiler, and 8% added solar panels.