Apparently everyone is moving. Post-lockdown, the property market jumped back to life with one of the busiest Augusts on record. Lockdown has shone a light on the importance of having adequate space at home and many are trading up for bigger places.
However, hidden behind these headlines is the experience of young renters, many of whom are now being forced to move. Research has shown that 24% of private renters aged between 16 and 24 are reliant on the furlough scheme, leaving them facing difficult choices when the scheme comes to an end this month.
Other young people have lost work, had housemates move out or moved back in with parents who need support.
This is important because a lack of secure, appropriate housing can have long-term health implications. Last year, the Chartered Institute of Housing highlighted that young people often face high rental costs and insecure finances, which can negatively impact wellbeing and mental health. It seems that a generation that already faced a difficult housing challenge is being hit again in 2020.
The pandemic has brought the immediate health risks of overcrowding to the front of people’s minds. In addition to infectious disease, there are also mental health concerns of living tightly packed with others.
During lockdown, analysis has shown that young people are less likely to report having access to adequate space at home, particularly private space in which to work or study. The Marmot Review revealed that young people living in crowded homes are more likely to be stressed, anxious and depressed, have poorer physical health, perform less well at school and have a greater risk of behavioural problems.
As well as immediate risk to health, where and how someone lives affects the jobs they can access, the relationships they can nurture and their overall health. We have spent the past two years as part of our ‘Young people’s future health inquiry’ talking to young people about the issues they face when it comes to housing, and many report feeling trapped in a private rental sector that does not work for them.
As a nation, we must ensure that young people have access to good-quality accommodation for the sake of their health now and in the future.
Martina Kane is policy lead for the Health Foundation’s ‘Young people’s future health inquiry’