HOMES in north Northumberland are now among the most unaffordable in the whole of the UK, a new study has revealed, as the gap between wages and property prices widens.
Research carried out by the National Housing Federation (NHF) shows that the former Alnwick District area witnessed the biggest change in affordability over the past 10 years, with average house prices shooting up from £78,706 to £210,572 – an increase of 168 per cent.
But with local incomes rising by only five per cent over the same period, a typical home in Alnwick is now 16.9 times the average salary of £12,480 – up from 6.6 times the local salary in 1999.
In Berwick, a home costs 10.4 times the average income, compared to 5.6 times in 1999.
House prices in the countryside are now more than £40,000 higher than in urban areas, according to research by the Commission for Rural Communities, despite average wages being lower.
And the number of people on waiting lists for affordable homes in rural England has soared to around 750,000.
The NHF, which represents England’s housing associations, said rural councils must now draw up action plans to address the housing needs of their communities and publish an action plan to deal with it.
Monica Burns, NHF’s North East regional manager, said: “These figures highlight just how difficult it can be for rural inhabitants in the North East to afford a home of their own in the current climate.
“With the disparity between income and house prices growing so rapidly, local inhabitants can often feel like they have to win the lottery to be able to buy in their local area.
“Young people and families are being priced out of many rural areas and local services such as village shops and pubs are disappearing with them – fuelling fears that traditional village life is in decline.
“As a first step we are asking all rural councils to make sure they have a full understanding of housing need in their area and to publish an action plan to deal with this need.
“We are delighted that Northumberland and Durham unitary authorities have supported our campaign and hope other councils follow their example.”