Low wages fuelling Scarborough housing crisis

Scarborough is in the grips of a housing crisis with low wages pricing many out of home-ownership, new figures released today have revealed.

Friday, 23rd March 2018, 8:29 am
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2018, 8:30 am
House price crisis

Despite the town having some of the lowest house prices in Yorkshire and the Humber the low wages paid to workers means that many cannot get on the housing ladder.

Scarborough is also burdened from a high-number of second home and houses left empty over long periods.

The findings, released today by the National Housing Federation, make for grim reading.

The report finds: “In some areas, high unemployment and low wages still make affordability a big issue.

“In Scarborough, despite average house prices being £122,100 lower than the national average, local wages mean homes cost nearly eight times typical incomes.”

The average house price in Scarborough is £166,000, £20,000 lower than the average across Yorkshire.

However, the mean average wage is just £21,258 per year, more than £3,000 less than the average in North Yorkshire alone. It is £7,000 below the national average.

In order to afford a standard 80% mortgage on an average home in Scarborough a worker would need to earn approximately £38,000 a year.

The report adds: “There is an acute housing crisis in Yorkshire and Humber which is wide and varied.

“An undersupply of new homes has led to spiralling costs of buying, and rents across the region are often too high.”

One stat that jumps out is the number of second homes in Scarborough.

Council tax records show that there are 4,059-second homes in the borough.

To put that figure into context, it is more than Leeds, Harrogate and York combined.

Cllr Bill Chatt, the council's cabinet member for housing, said the authority is working with registered social landlords and the private sector to deliver more housing in the borough.

He added: "Scarborough has delivered a local plan that identifies affordable homes as a priority in our borough.

"We have been working to support the building of community homes in our northern area. and looking at opportunity’s in private development and using local letting policy’s in areas of high needs."

He also pointed to the council's selective licensing scheme in areas of the town, which is aimed at improving the standard of rented accommodation.

"This should, in the long term, improve some of our poorest areas of accommodation," said Cllr Chatt.

"But, the borough of Scarborough sits on the coast with a large area of the available land left sitting in the national parks,

"The officers work very hard to find that opportunity for development, such as the development of Middle Deepdale at Eastfield with a potential to deliver circa 2,500 new home.

"We are even looking at different types of builds, even none traditional."

However, the opposition group on the council said enough was not being done to address the crisis.

Steve Siddons, Leader of the Labour Group on Scarborough Borough Council said: "The news that average house prices in Scarborough and Whitby cost almost eight times the average annual wage, highlights the need for much more truly affordable housing for residents of the Borough living in the ‘low wage capital of the U.K.’

"Labour has already called for SBC to build many more affordable house, for social rent and purchase, through its proposal for innovative public finance schemes in partnership with social housing providers.

“This is the moment when SBC must come up to the mark and work with Labour to deliver truly affordable housing to buy and rent. Only then can lower wage earners aspire to have a home they can call their own in a community in which they feel valued.”