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New report lifts lid on housing affordability crisis in South West England

Great Somerford 2

A new report commissioned by Homes for the South West (H4SW), with research undertaken by  academics at University of the West of England (UWE), reveals plummeting levels of affordability for homes across the South West, with the area subject to higher than average property prices and lower than average incomes.

GSA is part of H4SW, a group which is comprised of chief executives from some of the largest housing associations in the South West...

The research provides the most detailed data ever produced on the South West’s housing affordability – highlighting that most local authority areas in the Southwest are significantly less affordable than the rest of England as a whole. 

The H4SW and UWE research reveals that house prices in the South West have risen nearly fourfold - while median wages have not kept pace. In the past 25 years, and in some areas, such as Bristol, the increase in house prices surpassed 500%. Some parts of the Southwest are now seeing median house prices of 28 times average earnings.

Victor da Cunha, Chair of Homes for the South West said: "The lack of affordable housing in South West England is having a detrimental impact on the regional economy, as essential workers, such as doctors and nurses, are struggling to find suitable housing at levels they can afford. This not only affects the quality of life for these workers but also the provision of essential services for the wider community.

“As we approach local elections, we would like to see all parties set out their vision for housing. In particular, we think it essential that local authorities revisit their planning guidance to increase the proportion of affordable homes built, and call on the Government to enshrine the five-year land supply in housing targets - especially considering the suggestion of relaxing these in the recent NPPF consultation.”

The H4SW report also shows that in order to clear the backlog, and meet future need at the same time, the Southwest would have to build 70,000 new homes each year for the next five years, with 60% of those homes being affordable.

The report goes on to explain that the affordability crisis in the South West is driven by four key factors particular to the region:

  1. Land supply - a higher demand for housing than there is a supply of land to build on
  2. Higher-than-average property prices contrasted against lower-than-average earnings
  3. The Government’s Right to Buy programme reducing the amount of affordable housing available
  4. People moving to the Southwest from other parts of the country as well as the numbers of holiday lets and second homes.

Our Chief Executive Ruth Cooke, who sits on the H4SW board, said: “This important research highlights the scale of the affordability challenge in the South West of England and the crucial role social housing has to play as part of the response.

“As a member of H4SW we endorse the recommendations made in the report today and will continue to play our part in tackling the housing crisis in the region.”

The full report is available here: