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Many public sector workers in Britain can no longer afford to buy a home

New research shows that many public sector workers across Britain have been priced out of owning their own home, as they simply do not have the financial means to be able to make such a purchase.


According to the findings of a UNISON study, the task that public sector workers must overcome to get a deposit together and obtain a mortgage are often unachievable in most local authorities across the UK mainland.


The report is based on the assumption that first time buyers are able to save £100 every month, and highlights how saving enough money put down a suitable deposit on a standard property would take decades for public sector staff in some parts of London.


The research focused on the salaries for employees in five jobs; an NHS cleaner, teaching assistant, librarian, nurse and police community support officer (PCSO). It calculated what multiple of their annual income they would need to borrow for a mortgage once they had paid a deposit.


The report explains that it would take a minimum of 14 year for those in all nine English regions, Wales, and Scotland to save the required amount, and this doesn’t even take into account that house prices are continuing to rise.


In Kensington and Chelsea, London’s most expensive borough, it would take 132 years to save enough money using such a measurement, while it would still take 35 years in one of London’s cheapest boroughs, Barking and Dagenham.


To secure a first time buyer mortgage on a property, a London-based NHS cleaner earning £21,786 a year would need to borrow 16.5 times their salary – a borrowing ratio which lenders simply would not stretch to.


Meanwhile, a teaching assistant based in the South East would need to borrow around 11 times their £19,446 annual wage. A typical PCSO in the East of England would need to borrow 9 times their annual £23,346 salary.


Currently, the Bank of England recommend that lenders should only stretch to 4.5 times a person’s salary, and the report shows that under these guidelines, obtaining a mortgage is simply out of the question for an NHS cleaner or a teaching assistant, regardless of their location.


The situation doesn’t make much better reading for PCSOs either, with the North East being the only region where they would realistically be able to get a mortgage. A librarian or a nurse could only manage to do it in the North East of England, or in Scotland.  


What’s more, the report outlines that house prices are expected to continue to grow faster than wages until at least 2022.


A previous UNISON report highlighted how public sector workers generally spend a disproportionate amount of their salary on rent, and that average rents were quite often unaffordable for those on the lower scale of the public sector.


‘Deposits and mortgages are quite simply way out of reach, while the spiralling cost of renting is eating up a growing proportion of the take home pay of working people across Britain. Wage rises haven’t kept pace with soaring house prices and rents, and the situation looks set to worsen,’ said UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.


‘The struggle for housing cuts across generations, jobs and regions. Employees are being forced to work further away from their jobs, and young people cannot afford to move out of the family home,’ he pointed out.


‘The Government has had more wake-up calls over the growing housing crisis than hot dinners. Decisive, creative and responsible action is needed now,’ he added.

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