A population boom is pushing the West Midlands’ housing market towards breaking point, according to a new report out today.
Housebuilding is failing to keep pace with a population surge in the region, while wages continue to lag behind housing costs, says the National Housing Federation – the umbrella group for the UK’s not-for-profit housing association.
The new report, called Home Truths 2014: West Midlands, and released in Birmingham today, warns that less than half of the homes needed just to house new households forming in the region are currently being built.
The federation was today calling for a major building programme of affordable housing for the region. It estimates 17,800 new households will form each year up to 2021 but only 8,620 new homes were built during 2012/13. Overall the region built the third lowest number of new homes in England over the past year.
Emma Reynolds, Wolverhampton North East MP and Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said: “This report shows the Government is failing to build the homes the country needs and is failing to act on the cost-of-living crisis. We need to build many more homes to keep up with demand.”
The NHF says the homes shortage is making housing increasingly unaffordable, with prices soaring 56 per cent between 2002 and 2012 and the average home now costing nearly nine times the average wage, at £173,378. Meanwhile, it now costs £34,676 just to put down a deposit on the average home.
At the same time, the federation says rents are rising even faster than house prices, up 61 per cent over the 10 years to 2012, and set to rise another 39 per cent by 2020.
It says Walsall saw one of the highest private sector rent rises over the 12 months to September last year, jumping by 5.2 per cent, to an average of £508 per week. Also in the top 10 for rent hikes was Birmingham, where they rose 4.4 per cent to £565, and Sandwell where they went up 2.5 per cent to £500 a week.
In Wolverhampton average weekly rents rose just 0.4 per cent to £499, in Dudley they were up 1.2 per cent to £516, and in Kidderminster they rose 0.9 per cent to £533. Staffordshire rents also rose 0.9 per cent, to £535 per week.
Gemma Duggan, spokeswoman for the National Housing Federation, said: “High house prices, rising rents and comparatively low wages in the West Midlands are not only making life extremely difficult for people living and working in the region, but they are also affecting employers and businesses and risk holding back economic growth.
“We need Local Enterprise Partnerships to work with local councils, housing associations and others to take a strategic lead on getting more homes built at the right price in the right places”