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The Housing Debate$
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Stuart Lowe

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847422736

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847422736.001.0001

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The birth of the home-owning society: the interwar years (1918–39)

The birth of the home-owning society: the interwar years (1918–39)

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 The birth of the home-owning society: the interwar years (1918–39)
Source:
The Housing Debate
Author(s):

Stuart Lowe

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847422736.003.0003

The First World War was a turning point in the history of housing in Britain, and was an event of such magnitude that it traumatised the whole social structure. The social fabric of Britain was ripped apart and a new economic order grew from old and decaying structures. The housing market was in crisis because conditions for private investors were poor and there was a very large and growing deficit of dwellings to households. The state stepped in with a mass house- building programme. At the same time, the private sector — in part supported by government subsidies — invented a new consumer-led form of ‘homeownership’ meeting the housing demand created by new classes of white-collar workers. The mass of ordinary manual workers continued to live in deteriorating housing rented from private landlords. A new suburban way of life came into existence as transport links such as the London tube expanded. Such was the scale of building that by the time the Second World War broke out, housing shortages were in sight of being solved. New institutional forms had been invented and the foundations of ‘the home-owning society’ laid down.

Keywords:   suburbanisation, council housing, owner occupation, affordability, slum clearance

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