Headlines: July 19th, 2001

A growing lack of affordable housing is threatening recruitment to public services and undermining government strategy to raise standards. The warning comes in a report by The Institute for Public Policy Research the centre-left think tankThe report, ‘Squeezed Out’, highlights the plight of many workers including teachers, nurses and police officers, on incomes up to 25,000 pounds per annum who struggle to buy homes. They are excluded from social housing and find private renting an unattractive last resort.

As well as high levels of employment in particular areas, there is currently less house building annually than in any year since 1924 and less than half the average output during much of the 1950s and 60s.

The research looked at Reading and Darlington to compare the experiences of a housing market under considerable pressure and one where a more balanced environment exists. The relationship between incomes and housing costs were mapped and revealed the severe affordability problem being experienced by people on below average incomes in high cost areas like Reading.

The report suggests that employer support could be through wage additions, the provision of interest free loans for a home deposit, or imaginative work-based savings schemes. It also recommends working more effectively with local authorities in developing housing strategies and contributing to forward-planning. Another option it advocates is reviewing personnel policies to take the pressure off housing hotspots by siting some functions away from high housing demand area