Most public sector workers can only afford to own home in 8% of UK towns, report finds

Affordability gap widens as house prices outpace earnings growth for nurses, teachers and police

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
@maybulman
Monday 17 June 2019 07:06
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Report warns that widening gap in affordability was due to house prices outpacing earnings growth for public sector workers
Report warns that widening gap in affordability was due to house prices outpacing earnings growth for public sector workers

Most nurses, teachers and emergency service workers can only afford to own a home in 8 per cent of towns across the UK, a new report shows.

An analysis of housing affordability for five public sector professions across 515 towns, including 31 London boroughs, shows just one in 12 of these areas were affordable – down from one in four (24 per cent) in 2014.

In some areas, a home typically costs more than 18 times a key worker's average annual wage, according to the findings.

Halifax, which looked at average earnings for nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics, said the widening gap in affordability was due to house prices outpacing earnings growth for public sector workers.

Average house prices increased by 32 per cent between 2014 and 2019 - more than four times the average key worker's annual earnings growth, which stands at 7 per cent.

Halifax made the calculations on the basis that areas where house prices were typically less than four times average annual earnings were deemed affordable, while those above this ratio were seen as unaffordable.

Their analysis shows that only 3 per cent of towns were found to be affordable for nurses – compared with 12 per cent in 2014.

Meanwhile, some 9 per cent of towns were deemed affordable for teachers, 15 per cent for paramedics, 18 per cent for police officers and just 5 per cent for firefighters.

The research found that the most affordable towns in Britain for public sector workers were in the northwest of England, while the least affordable were in London and the southeast, where house prices are significantly higher than the national average.

Andrew Mason, head of mortgages at Halifax, said: “Over the past five years, UK wages have not increased in line with average house prices across the UK and this has had a knock-on impact on affordability for key workers.”

It comes as years of wage freezes and pay rises below inflation in the public sector have seen a growing number of teachers, nurses and other public service workers unable to afford to buy basic essentials.

The Independent revealed last year that the number of public sector workers having to rely on charity handouts to make ends meet had soared by more than 100 per cent in seven years as stagnating wages failed to match the rise in living costs.

The government has been approached for comment.

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