Half of incomes going on mortgage

EAST Anglians are spending nearly half their monthly income on mortgage payments, a new report has found.Rising house prices coupled with the lack of affordable properties is making life particularly tough in many rural areas, according to the Countryside Agency Its State of the Countryside 2004 report, published yesterday, reveals more and more people are moving from towns and cities into rural England.

By John Howard

EAST Anglians are spending nearly half their monthly income on mortgage payments, a new report has found.

Rising house prices coupled with the lack of affordable properties is making life particularly tough in many rural areas, according to the Countryside Agency

Its State of the Countryside 2004 report, published yesterday, reveals more and more people are moving from towns and cities into rural England.


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That is pushing up house prices and means homelessness is growing in rural areas. Between 2001 and 2003, the proportion of homeless households in remote rural districts rose by almost 30%, the report found.

The agency said rural households were spending increasing amounts of their income on mortgage payments, indicating that fewer local families could afford to buy houses in rural parts of the region.

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Households in the Tendring district spent an average of 49% of their monthly income on mortgage payments in 2003 - a rise of 10% since 2001.

That figure was matched in Babergh (41% in 2001) and Suffolk Coastal (45% in 2001). It was 47% in Mid Suffolk, 46% in Braintree, 45% in both St Edmundsbury and Waveney, 44% in Colchester and 41% in Forest Heath and Ipswich.

The average for rural areas in the east of England was 46% and the report added 37% of the rural population spent more than half their income on mortgage payments in 2003, compared to 26% of urban residents.

Tim De-Keyser, regional director of the Countryside Agency, said rural areas in the region had seen a huge number of newcomers in recent years.

"More people are making the choice to move to the countryside and, if they have the money to do it, they get a great quality of life," he said.

"But for people who are not lucky enough to be in that position - those who may have grown up in a rural area, are on a relatively low wage and not able to get on the housing ladder - it's a lot tougher.

"What we are generally seeing is a majority of people making the most of the good life they get in the countryside, but a minority of people being excluded from that. We need to focus on that and help them enjoy a better quality of life."

The report also revealed evidence of greater road use, partly due to the trips new arrivals in the countryside make to towns for work and shopping.

But not all the conclusions were negative and the report shows that incomers generate jobs for local people as well as for themselves and that the number of rural businesses is growing faster than in urban areas.

Pam Warhurst, chair of the Countryside Agency, said "Life in England's countryside is good - for many.

"More and more people are moving there to live - and why shouldn't they have that choice?

"There's nothing wrong with wanting a good quality of life - but this pressure on the countryside has an unintended impact.

"Those who exercise their choice to move can reduce the choices of the less well off in rural areas and affect the character of our countryside.

"That's why it is important to focus on what's been going on, to help national and regional policy-makers better understand the impact of their decisions and initiatives on rural communities and our landscapes and do something about it."

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