Families on housing waiting lists in the Westcountry more than doubled last year as house-building lagged behind the growing need for new homes, a shocking report claims.
The number of households waiting for a home soared by a staggering 138% in Cornwall and 42% more Devon families joined the growing queue, according to the National Housing Federation.
The shortfall of homes in the South West – where the total list rose by a quarter to more than 186,000 – is the biggest in the country.
The standard 25% deposit on an averagely-priced home now stands at £55,021, a figure the average wage-earner would take more than nine years to save. The effect of this is to drive up house prices and private rents, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford to rent their own home, let alone buy one.
The NHF study, Home Truths: South West 2012, found that more than 27,000 new households were formed in the region in 2011-12, but just 16,100 new homes were built.
This means the region is building less than 60% of the homes needed just to prevent the situation from worsening.
One in 12 South West households is now on waiting lists for social housing, while buying a house in Cornwall now costs £220,083 – almost 13 times the average local wage.
The report is being launched at Westminster today, with St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert, St Ives MP Andrew George, and Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton among those joining the debate on housing issues in the region.
Jenny Allen, South West lead manager for the NHF, said: "High house prices, rising rents and the fastest growing waiting lists in the country – these symptoms of the housing crisis are having a huge impact on people across the South West, including Cornwall.
"We have been building less than half the homes we need in the region for many years.
"The result is we now face the very real possibility that an entire generation will be priced out of being able to rent a home, let alone being able to buy one. With rents set to rocket – particularly from 2015 – there are fewer and fewer choices open to people who want to live here." She added: "Now the whole housing sector must take a long-term view to tackle the shortage of homes.
"Housing associations are ready and able to play their part by delivering more homes, but a ready supply of public land is needed to make a real difference."
The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government and local politicians to work with the housing industry to tackle the crisis.
But public support for building the right homes in the right places is also crucial, and the Federation believes it needs to help those who say "yes" to homes to get their voices heard. The Federation is therefore launching a campaign, "Yes to Homes", which, it is hoped, will give local people the chance to show councillors and politicians that new homes matter.
"If you're worried about housing costs or about where your children will live, tell your local councillor or MP that affordable housing is a must," the Federation says.
"We would ask everyone to visit www.yestohomes.co.uk to join our campaign and make their voices loudly heard."