Houses too pricey for 'backbone of Britain'

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The Independent Online

Teachers, nurses and bus drivers are having more difficulty than before buying homes close to where they work, says a report from the Labour Research Department.

Teachers, nurses and bus drivers are having more difficulty than before buying homes close to where they work, says a report from the Labour Research Department.

Its inquiries show that people in vital services who are on average earnings cannot afford to buy a house in many areas, with those in London and the South-east the worst hit.

The Government has proposed a Starter Home Initiative designed to help "key workers" and others on low incomes buy their own homes in areas of high house prices. Last week it announced that £500m was to be made available to provide affordable housing for those working in essential services.

John Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB union, which commissioned the research, said that although the additional money was "a move in the right direction" it was not necessarily enough. He said: "It is a scandal that such huge gaps in affordable housing exist. These workers are the backbone of this nation, they serve their communities day and night and deserve the chance to buy a home close to where they work."

In much of London, two people on average earnings would be almost £31,000 short of the amount needed to buy a house. Only nine of London's 32 boroughs had house prices that could be afforded by people on average earnings.

Hospital porters could not afford to buy a house anywhere in the South-east. In the West Midlands bus drivers and hospital porters would find only Stoke-on-Trent affordable and in the South-west, hospital porters are priced out of the housing market, while bus drivers can afford to buy only in Plymouth.

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