People on middle incomes squeezed out of renting in southern England

A high number of middle earners are being priced out of living in rural southern England, new CPRE analysis reveals.

In the 15 rural local authorities across the region, the analysis carried out by the countryside charity reveals that someone earning the local median income would currently see more than half their take home pay go on rent for the average two-bedroom property. This is much higher than the widely accepted affordability threshold of 30%, making it very difficult for these households to maintain a decent standard of living.

Sevenoaks is the worst local authority when it comes to unaffordable rents, followed by Bath and northeast Somerset, Tandridge, Chichester and Lewes, according to the research.

Record high rents and house prices, stagnating wages, huge waiting lists for social housing and a proliferation of second homes and short-term lets are draining the countryside of skills, economic activity and vital public services.

CPRE is calling on the government to fix the rural housing affordability crisis to help narrow the gap between the disparity between rural rents, which are higher than those in other parts of the country, and rural wages, which are much lower.

The analysis by CPRE uses the ONS data, which accounts only for the incomes of people in employment. It does not include those of self-employed people or people out of work.

Last year, rents in rural England increased by 27%, compared to the national average of 17%; in the five years to 2022, house prices in the countryside increased at close to twice the rate of those in urban areas.

To help fix the issue, the CPRE is calling on the government to:

+ Redefine the term ‘affordable housing’ in housing and planning policy so that the cost of these homes is directly linked to what people on average local incomes can afford, rather than to market prices.

+ Increase the minimum amount of genuinely affordable housing required by national planning policy and implement ambitious targets for the construction of social rented homes.

+ Support local communities to deliver small-scale developments of genuinely affordable housing and make it easier for councils to purchase land at a reasonable price, enabling the construction of social housing and vital infrastructure.

+ Introduce a register of second homes and short-term lets, with new powers for local authorities to levy additional council tax on second homes.

+ Extend restrictions on the resale of ‘affordable housing’ to all parishes with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants to ensure properties continue to be used by local workers, not as second homes or holiday lets.

CPRE housing campaigner, Brad Taylor, commented: “It’s alarming that people on middle incomes – teachers, nurses and emergency services workers – can no longer afford to live in many parts of rural England. What will people in these communities do without the essential workers they rely on every day? The government has got to get a grip on the rural housing affordability crisis and urgently introduce the changes to legislation we know will make a real difference.”

 

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3 Comments

  1. PMT

    Wow, another body recommending nonsense. Why not just define affordable housing as free if it makes the CRBE people feel better .

    Better still, why doesn’t the CRBE provide this “affordable” housing? Do they not see that if adopted, house builders simply won’t build – at a time when they need to be incentivised?

    Why should housing costs be pegged at 30% of income? I remember times when I paid c. 60% of what I earned as rent. It didn’t kill me. I didn’t eat out, nor did I go drinking. It also incentivised me to buy my own.

    It is idiot policies like this that is causing the problems; sorry, but it is time we started being honest about these things.

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    1. jan-byers

      100%

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    2. PMT

      ^^CPRE

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