HOUSE prices are now far beyond the reach of the majority of people living in rural Northumberland, with the cost of a mortgage more than 10 times the average wage in the Alnwick area.
But a new report by the National Housing Federation says finding somewhere to rent is also becoming increasingly difficult, due to rising costs and a lack of affordable social housing.
The study, called Home Truths, says it would take 19,635 years to clear the backlog of Northumberland families waiting for social housing because of the broken housing market.
Nearly 8,900 households are now languishing on social housing waiting lists, as spiralling mortgage deposits and private rents push affordable housing out of reach for many.
Even though house prices slumped by seven per cent in the North East in the year to June 2011, the largest decrease in the country, high unemployment rates and the lowest incomes in England mean the region’s housing market is still simply too expensive.
Monica Burns, the National Housing Federation’s lead manager for the North East, said: “Caught in an impossible can’t buy, can’t rent dilemma, North East families face life-changing years on social housing waiting lists.
“With the lowest number of new homes for 90 years, the only things we are building up are long-term problems for schooling, health and jobs.
“The North East desperately needs a strong social housing sector to help economic development.
“The Government must act quickly so more affordable homes are built and empty homes are brought back into use before the North’s broken housing market gets any worse.”
In the former Alnwick District Council area, an average house cost £201,919 according to 2010 prices, while the average wage was £19,755.
Monica added: “Buying an average-priced home for most of the North East is now beyond the reach of the majority.
“It is only an option for someone earning twice the regional average wage.”