Families struggle to rent privately in Portsmouth

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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RENTING a property in the Portsmouth area is becoming increasingly unaffordable, a new report claims.

The report from the Resolution Foundation – which campaigns on behalf of low to middle-income families – says most of southern England is now beyond the reach of less affluent households.

With social housing usually unavailable and home ownership unaffordable for many first-time buyers, renting privately is often the only option for households on lower incomes.

The Resolution Foundation has provided a breakdown of the amount of cash families are spending on housing costs in each local authority area.

The figures are based on a couple with one child on a low to middle income renting a private two-bedroom property.

In Portsmouth, around 35 per cent of income is spent on housing costs.

The Resolution Foundation says that anything from 35 per cent upwards means a property is unaffordable.

Meanwhile, in Gosport, housing costs are cheaper, with 32 per cent of income being spent on housing costs for private rent.

Fareham and Havant are more expensive, with Fareham at 37 per cent and Havant at 35 per cent.

More affluent areas like East Hampshire, Chichester and Winchester are unaffordable for the average family.

Figures show 41 per cent of income is spent on housing costs for private rent in Chichester, with East Hampshire at 40 per cent and Winchester at 41 per cent.

People living in Northern towns, by comparison, are spending much less on housing.

In the upmarket district of Pendle in Lancashire, figures show a family spends just 20 per cent of income on private rent, with a similar figure for Northumberland.

Overall, 125 of 376 local authorities in Britain (33 per cent) are unaffordable for less-affluent working families, the report says.

Vidhya Alakeson, deputy chief executive of The Resolution Foundation, who wrote the Home Truths report with Giselle Cory, said: ‘Low to middle income households are at the sharp end of changes in the housing market.

‘They increasingly have only one housing option: unaffordable private rent.

‘While traditionally housing policy saw its role to improve access to home ownership for first time buyers and to ensure the delivery of adequate social housing, it now needs to take a broader view across all four tenures if it is to meet the needs of low to middle income Britain.

‘These 5.6 million households need better access to an affordable high quality rental offer in the market and better access to products that allow them to move on from long term renting to acquire equity shares and build assets in a way that is cost effective and flexible.’

She added: ‘Home ownership is out of reach for the vast majority of the group because few have the savings needed for a deposit and social housing is predominantly targeted at more vulnerable, out of work households.

‘With household incomes for the group expected to stagnate until 2020, affordability will continue to be a pressing problem for the decade ahead.’

However, housing minister Mark Prisk described the report as alarmist as it ‘suggests rents are soaring when in fact they have fallen in real terms.

He added: ‘And it fails to recognise that housing benefit provides a safety net which ensures that up to a third of private properties in most areas are affordable to low income families.’