Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, today warned that home ownership and renting in Brighton and Hove will remain indefinitely beyond the means of most ordinary people, especially those under the age of 35, because of a combination of high house prices, rocketing rents in the private rented sector, and government policy that is costly but ineffective.
Speaking on BBC radio this morning, he said that the government’s Help to Buy ISA is irrelevant in areas with high housing costs like Brighton and Hove. Very few properties are for sale below the £250,000 cap.
“The average one bed flat in Brighton and Hove is £240,000. What hope is there for any household with a child who need something larger? The average 2 bed house is £408,252, the average two bed flat is £338,598.
“A report published today by the BBC has shown that very few people can take advantage of the government’s starter homes initiative.
“Even if they can take advantage, the maximum they can benefit is just £3,000. That represents a pimple on the bottom of the elephant that is this housing crisis!
“It is one thing if a single initiative fails, but there are other measures that are costly but ineffective.”
He said that the government’s Starter Homes initiative is equally ineffective in areas like Brighton and Hove. Starter Homes will allow discounts for homes in new developments for first time buyers but you will need an income of £60,000 to £70,000 to afford most new homes coming on the market in the city.
“This initiative is costing £4.1 billion and is doing next to nothing to alleviate the housing crisis, does nothing for people in the private rented sector, does not address the obscenity that sees people sleeping rough on the streets, and does nothing for the 23,000 people on the housing waiting list in Brighton and Hove.
“The extension of the right to buy to housing association properties will just add to the shortage of homes that are affordable to ordinary people. There is no economic logic, housing imperative, or moral justification to continue with the Right to Buy, let alone extend it.”
Writing on his blog this morning, Andy Winter said that there are other measures, due to come in from April 2018, will further add the affordability crisis. Rents in social housing will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance – less than 1% of private sector accommodation in Brighton and Hove falls within LHA levels.
“Forget shared housing. We will soon be seeing an increase in shared rooms, with total strangers renting beds rather than their own room. We are turning the clock back to the bygone age, one that I never thought we would see again.
“The impact of the government’s announcement to restrict housing benefit to the average cost of a room in a shared house for anyone under 35 will make much housing, even in social housing, unaffordable.
“BHT’s most recent analysis shows that all the properties that we lease from private landlords and then rent out to people who would otherwise be unable to compete in the housing market, will be unaffordable for anyone under 35.
“Even amongst the homes we own, which have rents amongst the very lowest in the city, 57% will be unaffordable.
“There will be an ever increasing number of people sleeping rough over the next 5 to 10 years and an increase in the number of people living in overcrowded housing.”