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Home truths: Housing waiting lists in South West more than double in a year

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 07, 2012

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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.

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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."

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  • SmartyC  |  November 07 2012, 4:54PM

    ****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. **** Precisely why houses are totally overpriced and aren't selling. What's needed (and is very slowing happening) is a deflation of the phenomenally over-priced property prices. Then more will be able to buy, which will free up rental properties. Sadly, government presided over the massive property price boom that got values to today's ludicrous figures as it made everyone feel rich and go out and borrow borrow borrow, spend spend, spend, ultimately resulting in the financial Armageddon we're now in. Unfortunately the government still seem determined to try and prop up property values, hence the incredibly low interest rates that reward borrowers and penalise savers. The only thing they're actually succeeding in doing is slowing the inevitable fall to affordability, meaning everyone's stuck. Buyers won't (or more often can't) buy, sellers can't sell, renters can't become home owners, and rental prices are therefore inflated by demand making things even worse. It'll find its level in the end, but I feel very sorry for those forced to rent and stuck waiting for property to sink back to genuine affordability.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  November 07 2012, 2:36PM

    Andrew George Mp is here calling for more houses to be built.......next week he will be calling for less......this man is just self promoting clown....as are all cornish lib dems

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  • SteveTorbay  |  November 07 2012, 2:32PM

    Yet go around the Country and you will see hundreds of empty houses and flats, just boarded up and going to waste, its not more land that we need but immigration controls, wait till Turkey get the nod from the EU, we will be flooded with them pouring in to gain from our benefits and pushing them to the top of housing waiting lists, we cannot keep taking away land for building...

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  • Stork  |  November 07 2012, 12:21PM

    Rents will rise, or fall, depending on supply and demand. If the rents are low, demand will be high. If the rents are high, there will be fewer takers. I was in the property game for years, that's how the rental market works. The house sales market works in a similar fashion. If you can afford to buy a house, you buy it. If you can't, you're wise to look elsewhere, rather than getting up to your neck in debt. I have laboured the point before. What is needed is more building land. The drip feed supply of building land is controlled, initially by the local planning structure plan, but actually controlled by central government. If, the government wanted to. They could solve the housing crisis by the end of next week. All they have to do is instruct each local authority to ensure that there is enough land available to construct social housing by say, 1st January 2013. Any local authority that didn't comply, would have it's senior planning officer sacked. This is not rocket science, it's one of the simplest social problems to solve. Solving unemployment, now that is a difficult problem. In the 1950's, local authorities built small groups of social housing in and around towns and villages across the UK. They have blended in well, and there is no stigma involved. The one thing to avoid, is building an estate of hundreds of houses. Generally, groups of that size don't work. It's land availability that is the crux of the UK housing problem, a problem that the government can solve, if they want to.

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