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Wigan bucks trend on affordable rents

Homes to let on Upper Dicconson Street in Swinley
Homes to let on Upper Dicconson Street in Swinley

Wigan is one of the minority of areas where rental properties are becoming more affordable, bucking the trend for rental costs outpacing income rises across the country.

Data from Shelter shows that rental rates across England have increased significantly more than household incomes since 2011, with the housing charity calling on the Government to build more affordable homes to meet the growing need for reasonable rents.

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While traditionally seen as a London concern, in recent years the so-called ‘rentquake’ has started to spread from the capital to towns and cities across the country.

In Wigan, the average rental cost of a two-bedroom home increased four per cent between 2011 and 2017. Meanwhile, the average household income growth was 12 per cent.

In the 2017-18 financial year, the average monthly rent of a two-bedroom home in Wigan cost £467.

But it was a different picture across England, where the average rental cost leapt by 16 per cent - while incomes increased by an average of 10 per cent.

Shelter has called on the Government to come up with a new plan for social housing, to ensure that people on low income jobs can find somewhere affordable to rent and reduce the competition in the private rented sector.

Greg Beales, the campaign director at Shelter, said: “With this surge in private renters the housing market has shifted massively and yet as a country we’ve failed to respond.

"This has resulted in consecutive governments focusing on better-off home owners while not doing enough for hard-pressed renters. We need politicians of all parties to sit up and take notice of the rising numbers of renters, and ensure they’re doing all they can to protect them.”

The situation was most pronounced in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, where rental prices increased by 42 per cent. The average salary, meanwhile, was up by just two per cent.

Rental prices have become a more significant concern in recent years, as the number of households renting from private owners has risen by 74 per cent in the last decade.

Of the estimated 23.1 million households in England in 2016-17, the private rented sector accounted for 4.7 million, or 20 per cent, of households.

Across England, the proportion of household income spent on rent by private renters has also increased, and most recent figures stand at 41 per cent.

By comparison, mortgaged households spend on average 19 per cent of income on housing.