No chance for single home buyers in Devon and Cornwall
The housing crisis facing Westcountry families has been laid bare in a new report which found just 6% of properties for sale in the region were classed as affordable.
The charity Shelter analysed asking prices in every local authority area in the country against the mortgage that families, couples and single people on average wages could afford as first- time buyers.
It revealed acute problems across the Westcountry. In Cornwall 5.3% of homes were within the financial reach of families while the rate dropped to 2.3% in East and Mid Devon, and 1.5% in the South Hams.
The picture was even bleaker for single people with affordability rates of 3.1% in Cornwall, 1.2% in Torridge, 0.7% in Mid Devon and 0.4% in West Devon.
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Those with the best chance of getting on the housing ladder, according to the study, were the region's couples with 44.3% of homes for sale in Plymouth being judged affordable, 15.5% in Cornwall, 13.6% in Mid Devon and 10.2% in Exeter. Shelter said it results revealed "a shocking picture" which wasn't just confined to the South East.
Chief executive Campbell Robb said: "When the number of affordable properties in an entire town can be counted on one hand, it's not difficult to see why a stable home of their own is quickly becoming a distant dream for the next generation.
"It's right that young people who aspire to own their own home should work hard and save each month, but with such a pitiful number of affordable homes on offer – even with a generous 20% deposit – our housing shortage is holding them back.
"Unless we build the affordable homes we desperately need, house prices will continue to rise and as a result more people will be forced to live at home with their parents into their thirties, or move into the expensive and unstable private rental market.
"Young people are working hard and doing their bit. Now the government has to meet people halfway and increase the supply of affordable homes – not the supply of credit – or the prospect of a home of their own will slip even further out of reach for future generations."
The shortage of affordable homes is a long-standing problem in Devon and Cornwall which suffers from below average wages and house prices, in many communities, which are driven by second home buyers.
It has risen to the top of the agenda for local councils which, without a social house building budget of their own, are reliant on securing cheaper homes from developers through the planning process.
Cornwall Council's cabinet member for environment, heritage and planning Edwina Hannaford said: "We are acutely aware of how expensive open market homes are and that is why affordable housing is one of the council's highest priorities.
"In 2011-12, the council helped to deliver 787 new affordable homes, despite the worsening economic climate, and affordable housing remains a corporate priority.
"The council and its partners have adopted a challenging housing investment plan to meet an ambitious target of delivering 1,000 affordable homes a year over the next four years."
North Devon was ranked in the top 100 least affordable districts of the 455 in England and Wales. Shelter's study showed only 3.1% of homes could be afforded by families, 1.4% by single people and 10% by couples.
"It is one of our stated policy aims to increase the supply of affordable housing, North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade said. "The trouble is the number we are able to supply is not really sufficient."