Women and Housing: General Election

Date Posted: Thursday 21st November 2019

It’s key that all parties capture the extent to which the housing crisis is disproportionately affecting women

Reacting to party plans to solve the housing crisis, Dr Sara Reis, author of A Home of Her Own: Women and Housing said:

“The Women’s Budget Group welcomes plans to tackle the housing crisis in England. The housing crisis is disproportionately impacting on women as a result of the gender pay gap and, continued prevalence of domestic abuse. Unaffordable housing traps women in abusive relationships.

Labour’s plans to build 150,000 social homes by 2024 is integral to rebuilding the right to safe housing. Linking local incomes to affordability is an important move but it must take into account the gender pay gap which means women earn less than men so their level of housing affordability is going to be lower. Across England, average rents take 43% of women’s median earnings and 28% of men’s. There isn’t a single region of the UK where rent is considered affordable (30% of monthly income) for women due to the enduring gender pay gap.

Restoring housing benefit to actual rent levels is also crucial to ensure affordable housing for all. 90% of private renters face shortfalls due to housing benefit cuts since 2012. Women are 60% of housing benefit claimants so are being disproportionately affected by these cuts.

The Conservative’s plans to decrease deposit requirements to 5% will help more women onto the housing ladder as they still earn less, own less and take on more unpaid care work which means they have less time to do paid work. With less wealth generally, smaller deposits help. Women need over 12 times their annual salaries to be able to buy a home in England, while men need just over eight times.


However, what often restricts women from buying homes is mortgage required income which women’s earnings fall over 50% short of in every region of England except in North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. Men’s fall over 50% short only in London and the South East.

It’s key that all parties capture the extent to which the housing crisis is disproportionately affecting women and while we are glad to see housing on the agenda these measures do not respond to concerns that housing associations often do not have women-only spaces and that safe housing remains out of reach for migrant women without recourse to public funds.”

For more information contact Thaira Mhearban on 07736658951.

Notes for editors

The Women’s Budget Group is a feminist economics think and do tank. We are a network of academics, trade unionists, civil society organisations and activists who analyse the intersectional impact of economic policies on women and men and, promote alternatives for a more gender equal future.

You can read our report A Home of Her Own: Women and Housing here: https://wbg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/WBG19-Housing-Report-full-digital.pdf

During the General Election 2019, the Women’s Budget Group will be responding to announcements as per their impact on women and gender equality.