Rents and benefits to rocket

By Ian Dipple Friday 13 June 2014 Updated: 13/06 09:22

RESIDENTS will become increasingly reliant on benefits to afford their home in future.

The National Housing Federation is warning a lack of housebuilding will make renting and buying unaffordable for many.

In its latest Home Truths report the average house price is now more than nine times the average wage in the borough at over £164,000 while the average rent increased by 1.3 per cent to £556 between 2012 and 2013, with prices having increased further since publication.

The organisation has previously estimated without a drive to increase building of all properties, including affordable housing, rents will rise steeply from next year and cost an average of £714 in 2020.

That will result in people increasingly relying on benefits to afford their home. Between August 2009 and 2013 there was a 99 per cent rise in Redditch in those in work on housing benefits.

In order to meet demand for housing Redditch needs to build an average of 320 properties a year up until 2013. But just 60 were completed in 2012/13 and the highest number built in the last four years was 140 in 2010/11. As of April 2013 only 275 affordable homes were set to be built.

Gemma Duggan, West Midlands external affairs manager for the NHF, warned the combination of rising prices, rents and low wages would hit economic growth and affect companies' ability to attract and retain workers.

"We need Local Enterprise Partnerships to work with local councils, housing associations and others to take a strategic lead on getting more homes built at the right price in the right places, which will help revitalise communities and create jobs," she said.

"Local people also have an important role to play. Those who want more housing in the West Midlands need to contact local councillors and say yes to homes."

Redditch's last Local Plan No.3 covered a 15 year period and set out 4,504 homes needed to be built by 2011 at a rate of 324 homes a year, which planners say was achieved. Over that period 1,026 homes - 23 per cent of all properties built - were affordable.

Coun Greg Chance, responsible for planning on Redditch Borough Council, said they were trying a number of measures to boost affordable housing supply including buying back council homes, gifting land to housing associations and through the planning system. He added they had plans to build 6,400 homes over the next 20 years but the economic conditions would dictate what got built and how quickly.

"The current economic downturn is reflected in the low completion figures. If banks won't lend to builders or buyers, then builders won't build and buyers can't buy."

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