More than half of Thurrock can’t afford to buy a home

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

MORE than half of people living in Thurrock are unable to afford a home due to soaring house prices, a new report has revealed.

House prices across the borough have risen by an average of 50 per cent since 2014, while the average household income is less than £40,000 – the amount required to buy a one-bed flat.

Thurrock Council Offices

The figures have been revealed in a council report that shows between February 2014 and February 2019, the cost of a one bedroom flat rose by 53 per cent, from £97,725 to £149,643 while a two-bedroom flat has gone up by 53 per cent, from £129,129 to £197,865.

Meanwhile, a two-bedroom house will now cost in the region of £279,000, up from £178,653 five years ago. A three-bedroom house costs an average of £316,043, up from £205,486 and a four-bedroom house will cost around £439,000, up from £291,783.

While property prices have shot up, wages have remained stagnant with the average household income in Thurrock being between £35,000 and £40,000. The report notes that this means around 52 per cent of households cannot meet the “affordability requirements to purchase the smallest types of property available”.

For first time buyers, just seven per cent of the borough are capable of affording a four-bedroom house.

The report notes: “Whilst the average house price in Thurrock remains lower than in the neighbouring South Essex boroughs of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Southend, the percentage increase experienced in Thurrock between 2014 and 2019 is greater.”

The rental market has also seen prices increase by an average of around 30 per cent, with the rent on a one-bedroom property costing £8,944 a year an increase from £7,228 in 2014.

The report explains that “for a household with a single full-time average income, weekly rents in the private sector are not affordable across all property sizes”. Households with two people earning full-time will also struggle to afford anything larger than a two-bedroom property.

The reason behind the strain on housing is believed to be a combination of household incomes, which have not risen in line with property prices, and population growth which has not been matched with the supply of new homes.

Thurrock’s housing committee will discuss forming a new housing strategy that will look at housing needs across the borough and explore how the authority can help to address the issue.

The strategy is expected to be implemented in 2020 following a detailed analysis of the housing market and new Government legislation such as the Homelessness Reduction Act. This will be followed by a public consultation where residents will be asked for their views on housing and the support they need.

It will be discussed by councillors on Tuesday evening.

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