The Inside Edge
A recent survey has shown that families in Great Britain spend, on average, 40% of their annual income on housing costs and this means that those outgoings are the third highest in the whole of Europe.
In fact, only Denmark and Greece spend more on those expenses which would typically include the cost of renting or paying a mortgage together with other living costs. The report, delivered by Shelter also suggests that as many as one in six of those households are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with their payments which subsequently lead to higher levels of rent or mortgage arrears.
As a result, it’s claimed that the families who are worst affected are having to cut down on other household essentials such as food, petrol and clothing.
“These figures are the evidence that the UK housing market is deeply dysfunctional,” said Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive.
“With so many families spending huge amounts of their income on their rent or mortgage, people will be making daily trade-offs between food bills, filling the car tank with petrol, and paying their housing costs.”
The survey took in 29 countries from across the continent and it found that Cyprus headed the right end of the table with just 2.5% of its families faced with unaffordable housing costs. Meanwhile, our nearest neighbours France revealed that around 5% of its population were struggling with housing bills – a figure that is three times better than in the UK.
One of the main contributors to high housing costs is the price of fuel which continues to rise. The 2010-11 UK housing survey showed that each household pays an average of £1152 a year in energy bills and the figures look set to climb. However, the suggestion that those families struggling to pay rent and mortgages maybe going without heat is even more worrying.
Many cheap energy tariffs have also been scrapped in recent months leaving the cost of fuel to rise further and place an increasing strain on overburdened families.
“This is not set to get better any time soon,” Campbell Robb added. “While the situation is bleak at the moment, a succession of governments failing to provide much-needed affordable homes means that the future facing our children and our children’s children is only set to get worse.”
Overall, it’s a gloomy picture being painted by the survey but can the coalition government rise to Shelter’s challenge and provide the affordable housing that is being widely called for?