Brighton and Hove families being priced out of town

Posted On 12 Oct 2010 at 1:27 pm

Homes remain out of reach for many people in Brighton and Hove, with prices averaging 12 times local incomes.

The figure comes from the National Housebuilding Federation which said: “Three years into the housing slump and homes in Brighton and Hove are still out of reach for thousands of households throughout the area.”

And the head of Brighton Housing Trust, Andy Winter, warned that people who were born and brought up in Brighton and Hove would be priced out of their home town.

He predicted rising rent arrears, rising mortgage arrears and a rise in family breakdown.

Spacewords Brighton

Both the federation and Mr Winter called for more homes to be built, with Mr Winter placing the emphasis on affordable housing.

The federation’s concerns are contained in a report published today called South East Home Truths 2010.

The report says that house prices across the South East region rose more than 11 per cent in the year to May and were rising faster than in any other region outside London.

The federation marked the publication of the report with a reception in the Houses of Parliament this morning.

MPs and councillors at the reception were told that house prices in the South East have risen three times faster than incomes over the past decade.

The average house price for Brighton and Hove in 2009 (£244,946) stood at nearly 12 times the average individual income (£20,925), according to the federation.

Even in the cheapest quarter of the market, homes cost an average of £164,000.

The federation added that the gross annual income needed for an average mortgage is £62,986.

It also pointed to more people turning to social housing, with 9,546 households in Brighton and Hove on waiting lists.

This, said the federation, represented a 27.3 per cent increase in the past five years.

It cited government projections suggesting that almost 40,000 new households will form in the South East every year to 2031.

And it expressed concern about the government’s decision to ditch regional housebuilding targets.

It said that as a result, many homes that had been planned would not be built.

The federation urged the government to

  • invest in the building of affordable housing at scale
  • ensure the new planning system requires all local authorities to robustly assess housing need and meet it, incentivising local communities to build more homes
  • give housing associations flexibility in asset management so they can raise more private funds to pay for homes and community services
  • set up a commission to examine proposed housing benefit cuts and put in place safeguards to protect the poorest people.

Warren Finney, the federation’s South East regional manager, said: “Housing need across the South East is reaching desperate levels and Brighton and Hove is no exception.

“With the government bringing in sweeping changes, the axing of regional spatial strategies and the challenges of the current economic climate, the emphasis is increasingly being placed on local authorities to ensure housing needs in their areas are being properly assessed and met.

“We are calling on central government to continue to invest in affordable housing and are urging local authorities to keep it high on their agenda.

“It’s vital that they continue to work with their local housing associations to ensure the supply of affordable homes doesn’t dry up.

“As public sector funding gets tighter than ever housing associations are a key part of the solution to meeting housing need and delivering other vital community services.”

Mr Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, said: “Brighton and Hove is characterised by high property prices with a quarter of all households living in the private rented sector.

“The government is in the process of creating a radical new welfare benefit system that will last for at least the next decade.

“It threatens to bring increases in rent and mortgage arrears and added pressure on families resulting in increased family breakdown.

“There will be a widening gap between those who will be comfortable in spite of austerity cuts, and the rest – the squeezed middle, the working poor, and those out of work.

“This won’t be a society at ease with itself.

“There is an urgent need for government to be clear about how the country is to tackle this existing housing crisis, let alone the prospects of a worsening situation caused by the austerity measures being introduced.

“Unless there is a massive increase in the building of affordable homes in Brighton and Hove there’s a real risk that we will see an alarming outward migration of people, many of whom were born and brought up here.”

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