Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Generation Pause: 60% of under 45s left behind by housing crisis

Posted 06 Jun 2016

Housing stalls life milestones such as career, children and retirement, Shelter study shows.

New research from housing charity Shelter today reveals three in five (59%) 18-44
year olds in Britain say they will be forced to put their lives on hold because of housing problems.

The Shelter and YouGov study of adults under 45 was carried out as part of the Great Home Debate. It revealed the housing shortage is reshaping how millions of people live their lives and creating entirely new timeframes for when they hit traditional life milestones. Housing is a reason for people lagging behind in crucial aspects of their lives – from career and retirement to family and relationships.

Housing problems are a key factor in stalling people's careers, with one in five (19%) saying they had experienced or expected a delay in finding job opportunities. The survey also showed millions of younger people already feel retirement is slipping out of reach, with one in nine (11%) saying they thought it would be delayed because of housing.

Marriage and family was a major area of concern, with one in six (16%) people in relationships saying they had postponed marriage, or expected to do so. And many couples are also facing problems starting a family – one in five (22%) people in relationships have put off having children, or are expecting to in future.

With so many losing hope of a stable future, Shelter and British Gas are urging the public to take part in a national conversation about the meaning of home. In its 50th year, the charity will use people's views to help shape new standards for homes in the 21st century – and anyone can have their say by visiting

Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, said: "Everyone deserves the chance to have a home where they can put down roots and build a life for themselves. But our ever-growing housing crisis means millions of young people are being left behind – unable to reach many of the crucial life milestones that were taken for granted by the generations who came before them.

"As Shelter reaches its 50th year, it's heart-breaking to see so many young people still living in a housing limbo, facing a frustrating lifetime of instability where they feel unable to move forward with their lives.

"We cannot make this crisis someone else's problem, and it's the responsibility of all of us to help fix it.  So take part in the Great Home Debate and tell us what home really means to modern Britain – so we can fight to make this the reality for future generations."

Bryan Halliday, Head of Corporate Citizenship at British Gas, said: "Everyone has the right to a safe and warm home, and our partnership with Shelter has made great progress towards this.  But more needs to be done to put an end to bad housing. This is why we're supporting the Great Home Debate to help shape housing standards of the future."

Case study: Hayley, 34, lives in a London flatshare. After years of struggling with housing, she is worried about her future, and even considering working abroad to create a better life.

Hayley says: "I don't feel settled in a home like some of my friends do and it's hard not to compare yourself with others. I'd worry about the future when it comes to children too. I'm single right now but I'd only ever consider having a baby – alone or with someone else – if I was in stable home.

"I don't want to be in this situation in five years and I'm seriously considering what I'll have to do career-wise – I'm thinking about a move abroad. It's kind of sad really. Living in London is a bit Peter Pan like - just not growing up."

BaseNET: delayed in past or currently delaying or expect to delay or expect to never reach: Housing main reason/ a reasonEstimated number of people this represents, aged 18-44 (based on ONS population estimate of 22.4m people in Great Britain aged 18-44 as at 2014, latest available)
Delay in finding a suitable job opportunityAll 18-44 [2577]19%4.2m
Delaying MarriageIn a relationship, 18-44, [1582]16%2.2m
Delaying having children/ more childrenIn a relationship, 18-44 [1629]22%3.1m
Delaying retirementAll 18-44 [2577]11%2.5m
% yes
Housing issues will delay me from reaching milestones, by the time I come to end of my lifeAll 18-44 [2577]59%13.1m

Notes to editors:

  • Results are based on a YouGov survey of 6,254 GB adults (18+), 2,577 of which were aged 18-44. 1,629 were aged 18-44 and in a couple – defined as married, cohabiting, civil partnership or in a relationship but not living together. The survey was carried out online 9-11 May 2016, and is weighed in line with all GB adults.

  • Marriage results are based on a separate, but fully comparable, weighted sample (6,357, 2,482 aged 18-44, 1582 18-44 and in a couple), carried out online, 11-16 May, 2016.

  • Results in the release are for people surveyed who said they have delayed, are currently delaying, expect to delay in the future, or expect never to reach, with housing as the main reason, or as a reason.

  • Details on the results used in this press release are on the table below. Exact question wordings and full results are available upon request.