The South West is devoid of any areas where house prices are affordable on a single average wage, new research has revealed.
According to the TUC, the number of local authority areas where the average house price is less than three times the average annual salary has fallen from 72 to just one over the past 16 years.
The union organisation said its research showed there were no longer any areas in the South East, South West, London and the East of England where average house prices are less than five times the average wage.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that cities like Plymouth, where traditionally lower prices meant that people could get onto the property ladder were a thing of the past.
The study showed that in 1997, around in one in five local authority areas had housing regarded as “easily affordable”.
The same year, around one in ten local authority areas were “out of reach” for housing, with average prices more than five times local salaries, but the number has increased eightfold, said the report.
The top five least affordable areas of the country are in London, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea having average house prices more than 30 times the average local salary.
Elmbridge in Surrey is the least affordable area outside London with an affordability ratio of 14.3, said the report.
Ms O’Grady said: “London always comes out top when it comes to horror stories about ludicrously over-priced housing.
“But the toxic combination of rising property prices and falling real wages has meant that local housing affordability remains a huge problem for millions of people across the country.
“Houses and flats in traditionally affordable areas of the country – from Kirklees to Great Yarmouth and Plymouth to Oldham – are now out of reach for many local people.
“We need an ambitious programme of home-building to get house prices back under control.
“At the same time, the growing number of people who have no hope or desire to buy a property any time soon but are still being clobbered by soaring rents need a better deal too.
“But housing affordability isn’t just about house prices, decent wages are just as important and there is a lot of ground to make up before we return to the kind of salaries that people were earning before the crash.”
Gill Payne, director of policy and external affairs at the National Housing Federation, said action must be taken as a matter of urgency.
“As our new research shows, eight in 10 parents are worried about how rising house prices will affect the next generation and don’t believe that the mainstream political parties are effectively dealing with the issue of housing.
“With so many now locked out of home ownership and struggling with rents, we need action to be taken to end the housing crisis within a generation to ensure the situation doesn’t continue to worsen, leaving our children to deal with the consequences.”