The report clearly highlights the growing need for more affordable housing in the region. The South West is the only region in England where house prices are higher than the national average, but incomes are lower. With the average house price for 2008 at £222,704, nearly 12 times the average (median) individual income of £19,016, home ownership on the open market remains out of reach for many in the south west.
With even homes in the lowest quartile costing an average of £143,000, it is little surprise that existing social housing stock is struggling to cope with demand. The top five least affordable areas in the region are: * Isles of Scilly: £335,000 average house price (23.2 x £14,420 average income) * Christchurch: £276,231 average house price (19.1 x £14,472 average income) * Cotswolds: £332,494 average house price (18.8 x £17,716 average income) * East Dorset: £299,604 average house price (16.2 x £18,533 average income) * North Cornwall: £243,527 average house price (15.8 x £15,408 average income) It's not surprising then that more and more people are turning to social housing, with over 161,000 south west households (one in 14) on waiting lists, an increase of over 46% in the last five years. This situation is exacerbated in rural areas, where younger people are increasingly priced out of the communities in which they grew up or have families. On average homes cost over 13 times local incomes in these communities compared to 11.6% in more urban areas. In addition eight of the top 20 locations for second homes are in the south west, significantly more than any other region. These present a significant challenge to the local economy – testing the viability of many local shops and services to breaking point. Again the Isles of Scilly is worst affected in this respect with second homes making up over 18% of housing, followed by South Hams (9.83%), North Cornwall (9.56%), Penwith (8.46%) and Purbeck (6.87%). The National Housing Federation is calling on the government to: * Increase public investment to support the building of new high quality social housing * Make public land available to affordable housing providers at discounted rates * Compel the nationalised banks to make mortgage funds available for shared ownership * Ensure local housing authorities assess housing need in all rural areas every three years and publish an action plan to deliver affordable homes. Simon Nunn, Head of the South Region for the National Housing Federation, said: “The figures in our Home Truths report paint a clear picture of the difficult situation facing families in the South West who are looking for a home. With the combination of higher-than-average house prices, lower-than-average incomes, and a major shortfall in social housing in the region, it's no surprise that waiting lists are continuing to grow. “The current economic climate brings its own implications with even more families struggling to make ends meet. There are going to be difficult public spending choices ahead but with house building drastically hit and this growing pressure for affordable accommodation, the Government must keep the investment coming in to help ensure housing associations can continue to deliver the homes we so desperately need.”