Rent or buy? Here's how many people own their home in Bedford

More homeowners in the town are living mortgage-free compared to seven years ago

Two-thirds of Bedford families own their own home, figures reveal.

Office for National Statistics data estimates 68.3 per cent of households in Bedford were owners-occupiers in 2019 – the latest available figures.

This was broadly in line with 2012.

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And more homeowners are living mortgage-free – 35.5 per cent in 2019, compared to 32.8 per cent seven years before.

Across England, an average of 65.7 per cent of families owned their own homes in 2019, up fractionally from 65.4 per cent seven years before.

PricedOut, a campaign group for affordable house prices, said that while older generations are paying off their mortgages and enjoying low housing costs, young people are trapped in expensive renting by the high costs of raising a deposit.

Director Anya Martin said: "Housing costs are the major driver of inequality between the generations, and it is damaging young peoples' futures.

"The main barrier to homeownership is that we have been failing to build enough homes in this country for decades, resulting in rising prices.

"We have one of the most restrictive planning systems in the world. If we want homes to get cheaper, we must build more of them."

The Ministry of Housing said more than 243,000 homes were delivered last year – the highest number in over 30 years.

And measures in the Queen's Speech included changes to the planning system, which the Government believes will increase the supply of homes.

The proportion of households living in privately rented accommodation in Bedford has risen from 16.3 per cent in 2012 to 16.9 per cent.

Housing charity Shelter said that for decades the number of social homes has been plummeting, forcing people to rent privately.

Polly Neate, the organisation's chief executive, said: "Homeownership is totally out of reach as most private renters have no savings and no hope of scraping together a deposit. And the pandemic is making this bad situation worse as many families have seen their incomes drop and debt rise.

"Struggling families need a way out of private renting, and the only way to give them one is to start building more social homes.

"A new generation of good-quality social housing would give many more people the chance of a secure home they can actually afford to live in."

She added that the Queen’s Speech offered fresh hope to private and social renters.

"Today, we are one step closer to ensuring every renter can have a decent place to call home," she said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "We are delivering the homes our communities need and helping many more people get the keys to their own home through our Government-backed schemes including Shared Ownership, Help to Buy and our new 95 per cent mortgage guarantee scheme.

"We are investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over the next five years to help councils, housing associations and others deliver new homes."