October 13, 2011

Housing charity warns rent is unaffordable

by Jan Harris

Shelter today warned that ordinary working families in 55 per cent of local authorities in England are facing unaffordable levels of rent.

Rent costing more than 35% of the median average local take-home pay are classified as unaffordable by the housing and homelessness charity’s Private Rent Watch report.

Living in high-rent areas leaves few options for families who are already priced out of buying their own home.

Shelter is calling for the government to stem the rise in rent, which grew by one and a half times the rate of incomes between 1997 and 2007.

Recent research by the charity found that 38 per cent of families with children, living in privately rented accommodation, have had to reduce their food or heating bills in order to pay their rent.

In eight per cent of local authority areas, average rents cost a prohibitive 50% or more of full-time take-home pay, while less than a third (30 per cent) of local authority areas had ‘affordable’ rents of below 30 per cent of take-home pay.

The situation was particularly severe in London, where the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home was £1,360, compared with an average of £568 for the rest of England.

With the Welfare Reform Bill making its way through Parliament, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that more than a million children and adults will be pushed into poverty by 2013.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded report said that while the introduction of universal credit would ease poverty by 2021, this would be offset by other proposed changes to the tax and benefit system.

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