NHF: South West Housing Crisis Set to Worsen

17/08/2006 (source: politics.co.uk)

South West housing crisis set to worsen, new research reveals

The South West is now officially the most unaffordable place to buy a home in the UK, and the region's housing crisis is set to worsen, according to a new report published today.

Entitled South West's Housing Timebomb: Affordability and Supply 2006-2011 and jointly published by the National Housing Federation and Chartered Institute of Housing, the research presents a picture of the regional housing market under severe strain. The South West is now the only region in the country with above average house prices, but below average incomes. Some areas of the South West are particularly unaffordable - across five counties and unitary authorities, average house prices are over 10 times local incomes.

Over the last five years, an explosion of housing need within the South West has led to the number of households on affordable waiting lists growing by nearly 50%. Affordable home building for rent or sale is running at less than half the levels required to match this need.

The regional crisis is made worse by the continued growth of second or holiday homes - now treble the national average - with over 10% of homes in some areas not classified as main residences.

Oxford Economic Forecasting (OEF) projections included in the report show that over the next five years, the outlook is going to get worse for first time buyers who will find it increasingly difficult to afford a place of their own.

The projections see the average house price in the region rising to nearly £300,000, more than 40% higher than today. The rate of housing inflation is unlikely to drop with time - from 2008-2010, average house prices will continue to increase faster than 7% a year. Growth in earnings and disposable income in the region will continue to be outpaced by the increase in house prices during this period.

The National Housing Federation represents over 200 non-profit housing associations, providing low cost home ownership schemes and affordable rented homes for over 350,000 people in the region. They are doing all they can to help, but want to do much more.

Derek Cash, Head of South Region for the Federation, says, "These figures present a powerful picture of the continuing housing crisis in the South West. Unless some drastic action is taken, the outlook is only going to get much worse."

"The South West is a beautiful place, one that vast numbers of people want to enjoy. But the housing crisis is a key concern for many people and agencies in the region - more and more people are priced out of buying, with little hope of getting an affordable rented home. Young local people and key public sector workers will continue to move to cheaper parts of the country to ease their housing problems, making essential public services increasingly vulnerable."

"Affordable housing is no longer housing of last resort. A sizeable swathe of the regional population are finding that they now need help to find a decent home. The government is investing more in housing in the South West, but there is an enormous way to go. For example, 'right to buy' sales seriously impact upon the number of new homes our members provide. It's vital that the Government supports increased delivery of new affordable homes in the region, and makes affordable housing a major priority in next year's Comprehensive Spending Review."

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