More working people in Tyneside than ever before are claiming housing benefit to get by despite being in full-time jobs.
Around 15.5% of households that claim housing welfare are in work and bring home a regular salary, a figure which has doubled since 2008.
The statistics have been described today by the National Housing Federation (NHF) as evidence of an ‘affordability crisis’ in the region’s housing sector.
Monica Burns, the organisation’s regional affairs manager in the North East, said:
“The property market isn’t working and will only get worse for working people, local families and the next generation if we don’t take action.
“Building the right houses in the right places, and improving the ones that are already there is integral to creating stronger communities where people want to stay.”
The NHF’s research shows that the average person in the region spends £482 a month on rent, a quarter of their monthly income.
In Newcastle a monthly private rent averages out at £478, in North Tyneside £528 and in Gateshead £510.
Nationally middle income households of between around £20,000 and £30,000 are making two out of three new claims.
Ms Burns added:
“This is the new phenomenon that working people are claiming housing benefit. This is hard-working and people in respected jobs who still can’t make ends meet.”
The NHF’s report North East Broken Market, Broken Dreams also reveals that despite having the lowest average house price in England at £141,210, the North East also has the lowest salaries, meaning workers in the region are expected to pay six times the average income to eventually own a home.
In the rest of the country people are expected to pay 3.5 times their income to own a home.
The difficulty in getting on the property ladder is felt most acutely in Northumberland where there is the largest gap between the average house prices at £172,640 and the average salary of £23.863.
In Newcastle the average house price is £169,887, in Gateshead it’s £137,823 and in North Tyneside it is £153,768.
The average house price in England is £251,879, and the average salary is £26,520.
While the housing crisis in the South of England is characterised by a shortage of properties, in the North East Ms Burns said housing is far more than ‘a numbers game’.
The NHF would like to see the next Government take action on the North East’s housing situation, which they argue is part of a larger community crisis, where many people are living in poverty and are unable to access secure jobs.
They are backing the Homes for Britain campaign which seeks to pressure politicians into taking housing in the UK seriously by getting them to commit to reversing the housing shortage within a generation.
They also seek to lobby the Government to allow a housing associations to set their own rents and create a national Housing and Infrastructure bank.
Ms Burns said:
“It’s taken us a generation to get into this housing crisis and will take us a generation to get out of it. Successive governments have failed to tackle the country’s major housing challenges and we are calling on the next Government to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation and to publish a long term plan within a year of taking office, detailing how they will do this.”
She said the number of empty homes in the region is often used as a reason not to consider more new builds, but it was essential for the North East to build homes where they were needed – and former pit villages in Northumberland and County Durham were not always the right places.
She said: “Quite often there is not a housing need.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Oct 2014