Key workers 'can't afford homes'

NURSES, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics cannot afford a home in nearly 90% of towns in East Anglia, new figures reveal.A total of 17 out of the 19 towns the Halifax study looked at had properties with price tags out of the reach of key workers.

NURSES, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics cannot afford a home in nearly 90% of towns in East Anglia, new figures reveal.

A total of 17 out of the 19 towns the Halifax study looked at had properties with price tags out of the reach of key workers.

The situation has changed dramatically in the last five years, with only 26% of the region's towns unaffordable for the employees in 2002.

All of the places in the region that the Key Worker Housing Review turned the spotlight on this year were unattainable as hometowns for nurses, teachers and fire service employees.


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Even flats and maisonettes were unaffordable for key workers in one in seven towns - with 57% too expensive for nurses.

Meanwhile, in the South East - including Essex - 98% of the towns surveyed were unaffordable for key workers, compared to three-quarters five years ago.

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But last night, the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) said it was not only key workers who were affected by the lack of affordable housing.

RCCE director Nick Shuttleworth said: “The shortage of affordable housing is a massive problem for our rural communities, and isn't only confined to the needs of key workers.

“Last year's report from the Government appointed Affordable Rural Housing Commission suggested a minimum of 11,000 new affordable homes would need to be provided each year in rural communities across England to satisfy demand.”

Among the towns in the South East surveyed by Halifax were Chelmsford, Maldon, Braintree, Witham, Colchester and Clacton.

In East Anglia, the places looked at included Woodbridge, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Haverhill, Stowmarket, Ipswich and Lowestoft.

Tim Crawford, group economist at Halifax, said: “There's been a significant deterioration in affordability in East Anglia, which has seen one of the largest decreases in affordability across the country.

“It may be that key workers were attracted to an area because of its relative affordability in the past but now they find that is no longer the case.

“The government's key worker schemes are providing some relief but given recent trends there would clearly be benefits for broadening their reach.

“The forecast for this year is for a steadying of the situation. But if there were similar house price increases in the next five years as seen in the past few years then you could see a scenario where all the major towns in East Anglia would be unaffordable for all key workers.”

How the average full-time salaries shape up:

Teachers in primary and secondary school roles - £32,350

Nurses - £25,724

Police officers who hold the rank of sergeant or below - £35,578

Firefighters at the rank of leading fire officer or below - £27,867

Paramedics - £31,121

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