In Britain the biggest problem to rear its ugly head is housing. The younger generation is struggling to find suitable accommodation at a price they can really afford. The price of a home in British cities, compared with local earnings, has risen to its highest level in 8 years, according to research by Lloyds Bank. Its affordability ratio, which compares average house prices with average gross local earnings, found that city property costs 6.6 times earnings, up from 6.2 a year ago. The report found that the average city house price had risen by 8%, from £196,229 last year to £211,880.
St Albans, Bath, Truro, Exeter, Oxford and Cambridge are among the least affordable cities. Properties in Oxford, Winchester and London cost more than 10 times the average local wage. In the North, York is among the least affordable cities, with a property there costing 75 times earnings. All of the twenty most affordable cities are outside southern England. Londonderry, where the average property costs less than 4 times earnings, is the most affordable.
Lloyds said that affordability of a home in UK cities was on average at its worst level since the home price to earnings ratio rose 72, at the height of the property boom in 2008. Andrew Mason, the Bank’s mortgage products director, said: ‘House price rises in the past three years have risen more steeply than average wage growth, making it more expensive to buy a home in the majority of UK cities. This has also widened the North South divide as house prices in the South have generally seen stronger growth than in the North.’
If we analyse these figures more closely we see that Britain is now facing a chronic house shortage which is driving house prices upwards at a level we cannot sustain as a nation that seems to ignore the most vital needs of its citizens. Equality in British society is going through a phase where the rich are getting richer and the poor are desperately fending for their livelihood, while the present Tory government is claiming to have reformed itself in favour of those whose standard of living has gone to pot.
Let’s open our eyes nearer to home and tackle a problem that if left unresolved will bring shame to our reputation as a caring nation. Until we take the bull by the horns and start to act fairly and compassionately, our future will be a bleak repeat of the worst excesses of Mayhew’s London.