Weekly shop 'would cost £450' if groceries had risen as fast as house prices

Rising House Prices


This week, to highlight the fact that housing is increasingly unaffordable for many, campaign group Shelter published research which showed what our weekly shop would cost if food prices had risen to the degree that housing costs have done over the last decade.

Here, Shelter's Chief Exec Campbell Robb warns that unless something changes, the next generation will find it even tougher to get a stable and affordable home.

Tell us what you think about the cost of housing on the Talk thread here


Campbell RobbTimes are tough. More and more of us are feeling the squeeze on our household budgets, and the weekly shop is no exception. People are really concerned about the increase in the price of food over the past few years and the impact it's having on their ability to make ends meet.

It's interesting how differently we feel when it comes to housing. The news is so full of stories about rising house prices that we seem to have accepted the huge increase in the cost of owning a home as a given. New research by Shelter helps put this into perspective. It shows that if the cost of food had risen as quickly as house prices over the past 40 years, a weekly shop for a family of four would set us back £453. That's more than six times what it costs today.

Digging a bit deeper into that shopping basket reveals that a chicken would cost a massive £51, a bunch of bananas £8.47, and a loaf of bread £4.36.

If food prices really did reach these levels there'd be an outcry. Yet when it comes to house prices and the housing market we accept – even welcome - it, despite the impact it's having on a generation desperate for a home of their own.

The reality is that millions of young people and families today are finding that no matter how hard they work or save, they still can't get their foot on the housing ladder. Nearly 60% of British adults who don't own a home believe they'll never be able to afford to buy in their local area.

The social consequences of this are profound. We're hearing from more and more people who are living at home with their parents well into their thirties, even after they've got married, because it's the only way they'll ever be able to save up for a home of their own.

Those who don't have this option are left at the mercy of the private rental market, where landlords can raise the rent or evict at short notice. Generation Rent is no longer just students and young professionals: more than 1.3 million families now rent their home from a landlord – a number that's rising fast as more and more are priced out of home ownership and can't access social housing.

The problem is, unlike some countries on the continent, renting in Britain simply doesn't give families the stability they need. Almost half of families with children who rent worry their landlord will put their rent up to a level they can't afford, while more than a third worry about their landlord ending their contract before they are ready to move out. No parent wants to start a new school year being unsure of where they'll be living come the summer holidays.

Are you struggling to get on the property ladder, or are you worried for your children's prospects? How do you think the situation could be improved? Join the discussion.

Some of us who've already become homeowners may feel this doesn't have much to do with our lives, but we should all be concerned about what it means for our children. If these trends continue, they're going to find it even more difficult to get a stable and affordable home.

It doesn't have to be this way, but bold and radical action is needed now. We urgently need to build more affordable homes that are within reach for ordinary people once more. In the meantime, we've got to reform the rental market so that it gives people the stability and security they deserve. Unless the government starts meeting people half way, our children will pay the price.

Read responses from our bloggers: Salt and Caramel, Slummy Single Mummy, A Baby On Board - and tell us if you post on the subject. 

Last updated: 11-Feb-2013 at 11:10 AM