Briefing: Held-back households

By: Nicola Hughes  Published: February 2012

More and more people from all walks of life are finding that their housing is unaffordable and that their housing choices are constrained, impacting negatively on other aspects of their lives. This briefing outlines the housing problems that confront families who are held-back by the housing system, and sets out why it is so vital that policy makers recognise the needs of this group and begin to tackle the root causes of their housing problems.


The housing system is central to this squeeze on low to middle earners. As our housing market comes under increasing pressure, a large number of households find themselves struggling to find and maintain suitable and stable housing choices, or to meet their reasonable housing aspirations.

We identify four main areas where further research and policy development are needed. We will be publishing further work on these key topics over the coming year:

  • Promoting market stability to end the cycles of housing boom and bust that leave households locked out of homeownership, stuck in unsuitable homes, or threatened with repossession
  • Exploring the role of housing subsidies and benefits in helping hard-pressed families keep their heads above water
  • Creating a private rented sector that gives more stability and certainty to the growing number of renting families
  • Thinking afresh about housing tenure, and developing appropriate allocation policies and tenancy strategies


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