There's No Place Like an Affordable Home

H&F still too expensive for key workers to buy

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Hammersmith and Fulham is the second least affordable place in the country for key workers to buy a home, according to a new survey.

The Halifax Key Worker Housing Review shows that although the house price crash has made it easier for public sector workers to buy their own homes in many other parts of the country, Hammersmith and Fulham is still largely out of reach for nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics.

According to the report, an area is classified as 'affordable' if the average house price there is lower than the price a key worker on average earnings can afford to pay. This is based on the historical house price to average earnings ratio of 4.0.

Out of 493 towns surveyed nationwide, including 32 London boroughs, Kensington and Chelsea came out as the least affordable place in the whole country for key workers, with a house price to earnings ratio of 14.9. This was followed by Hammersmith and Fulham (13.8) and Westminster (13.6). Barking and Dagenham is the only London borough where flats are affordable for key workers (3.65).

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “There has been an improvement in housing affordability for key public sector workers across many parts of the UK since house prices reached a peak in 2007. Nearly one in six towns has become affordable for the average key worker since then due to a combination of lower house prices and increased earnings. Despite this improvement, housing in the majority of towns remains unaffordable for the typical key worker.

“Police officers and teachers have seen the biggest improvements in the number of towns where housing is affordable. Another striking feature is that all of the affordable towns are outside southern England, which means that key public sector workers are still heavily constrained in the housing market in the South."

The Halifax report shows that overall, while teachers have seen a “substantial improvement in affordability” and fire fighters and paramedics have seen “moderate improvements in affordability”, nurses are still struggling. “Nursing is the key worker group with the most affordability problems,” the report states. According to the report, Hammersmith and Fulham is the second least affordable area for key workers in all of these occupation categories.

The report is not based on those working in entry-level positions but on the following average annual salaries:

  • £34,552 in 2009 for full-time teachers in primary and secondary school roles
  • £28,858 for full-time nurses
  • £39,944 for full-time police officers who hold the rank of sergeant or below
  • £32,058 for full-time fire fighters at the rank of leading fire officer or below
  • £38,792 for full-time paramedics

The Key Worker Living scheme was launched by the Government in 2004 to help certain public sector employees to buy a home, upgrade to a family home or rent a home at an affordable price. The scheme is targeted at key worker groups in London, the South East and East of England where there are problems with recruitment and retention.

May 31, 2009