30th January 2012
Alan Whitehead today pressed the Government over measures to tackle spiralling house prices and rents in the south of England.
In Southampton, the average house price is now 9 times the average income, and the average rent for a two-bed home now accounts for 46% of the average income- one of the highest rent to income ratios in the country.
Shelter's Private Rent Watch (p50) ranks Southampton as 37th most unaffordable place to rent in the country when rent prices are compared to average income. It's harder for a city resident on an average income to rent a property in Southampton than it is in Hastings, Reading, Portsmouth or parts of London.
Shelter also found that found that 38% of families with children who were renting privately had cut down on food to pay their rent.
At the same time, the National Housing Federation's Home Truths Report highlights how average worker in Southampton would need to have almost double the average local income (£38k vs. an average income of 20k) to afford an average 75% mortgage in our city.
Rents also rose over the course of 2011. According to the Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services, average rents have increased by 3.5 per cent in 2011.
Before the 2010 General Election, the last Labour Government's National Affordable Housing Programme delivered 256,000 affordable homes to buy and rent. But now while rents and house prices in the south continue to spiral, the Conservative Government plans to dramatically slow the pace of creating affordable homes, with a target of only 170,000 in 5 years- a reduction of 33%.
Dr Whitehead today pressed the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to recognise the scale of the problem with house prices and rents in Southampton and the south, and to look again at their choice to scale down targets for building new affordable homes.
"Is the Minister aware that the average family in Southampton would have to spend nine times its salary in order to purchase an average house in the city, and that, based on rent as a proportion of median income, Southampton’s private sector rents are also deemed very unaffordable? How does he intend to take people out of this trap, given that even if the Government’s affordable housing programme works it will produce only 70% of what the Labour programme produced in its last five years?"
Speaking after the debate, Alan said:
"At a time when housing prices and rents are taking up more and more of the average income, the very worst thing the Government could do is scale back on targets for delivering more affordable homes. And yet this is exactly what the Government is doing.
"Increasing the affordable housing supply will save the government money in the long run, as less will go to private landlords charging exorbitant rents to social tenants. But the chaos caused by new Tory planning rules and the lack of priority housing gets inside Government mean tackling this growing crisis is now harder than ever."
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