Monday, 22 October 2012 10:15 AM
Over 1.5 million people in England and Wales have a second property in another local authority, the Census 2011 has revealed.
There are no comparable stats as this is the first time such information has been collected.
The 1,570,224 with a second home equate to 2.8 per cent of the usual resident population.
However it is not holiday homes making up the bulk of the figure, instead 77 per cent said they had a second residence for a reason other than work or holiday.
Many are used for students, as parents look to dodge expensive campus accommodation fees or private rentals by buying property wherever their child goes to university.
Just 11 per cent of second properties are used as holiday homes, a figure which would have been far different had such questions been asked on the census a hundred years ago.
Instead people are now buying abroad, 1.5 per cent own a second address outside of the UK, or 820,814 people.
There are also 47,733 with a home in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Unsurprisingly Cornwall is the most popular area for people looking to buy a second home, 23,000 have an address in the region and use it for 30 days or more a year.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Some 1.5m people are in the fortunate position of owning a second home, either in the UK or abroad, although this number would be far higher if it included those owning property that they rent out.
“It is no surprise that such a small proportion of people own a second home as it is a considerable financial investment.
Although property prices have fallen in many parts of the country over the past year, and are expected to slide further still, the cost of a property as a main residence is beyond the means of many, never mind a second home.”
On this other side of the coin a chronic shortage of housing is forcing many people into an over reliance on housing benefit to pay their rent.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) points to a failure to build homes as being behind an 86 per cent rise in the number of UK workers claiming between May 2009 and May 2012.
David Orr, NHF chief executive, said that the housing market is “at the point of no return” and urged the government to tackle the shortage of homes to avoid a “bleak” looking future.
According to NHF figures just 111,250 new homes were built last year, despite the fact that 390,000 new families were formed.