Homes unaffordable for public workers in many UK towns
According to data from the Halifax (LSE: HBOS), public workers cannot afford homes in seven out of 10 towns in the UK. These workers – teachers, firefighters, police officers and nurses, among others – are more often finding that they cannot afford to live where they work, with the problem growing much worse in recent years. In 2002, around 33 percent of towns were unaffordable for public workers; by 2006, the figure had grown to 65 percent of towns being unaffordable. Halifax defined a town as unaffordable for a particular group of workers if the average house price there was over 4.46 times the average pay of that group.
The least affordable towns, according to the report, are in London and the South East, while four out of five of the most affordable towns are in Scotland. The other most affordable town is in Wales. Nurses seem to be in the worst position, with upwards of 90 percent of towns in all areas of England, Scotland and Wales too expensive for them to buy and all towns in the North, Yorkshire, the East and West Midlands, East Anglia, the South West and South East, and Greater London too expensive for them. Police officers look to be in the best position, with only the South West and Greater London out of their price range in all towns.
The government argues that it has done a great deal to help public sector workers to afford homes, through efforts such as shared equity and shared ownership schemes. They often get preferences from housing associations. The downside of that help, however, is that private sector workers often express resentment that they, too, cannot get extra help in buying a house. Union representatives say, however, that those perceived advantages are often not enough to overcome the growing price of homes in the UK for public sector workers and that some workers in the health care sector who make the least amount of money are not even eligible to take part in some of those programs.