Wigan residents caught up in a rent trap

Privately renting a typical home is affordable to working families in Wigan new figures show, but still costs more than a fifth of their salary.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 12:03 pm
It costs Wigan households one-fifth of their wage to rent a house privately

Housing charity Shelter says households in which earners are on low wages are being “bled dry” by the price of renting across much of England.

It has called on the next Prime Minster to build 3.1 million new social homes in the next 20 years to provide a sustainable solution to the housing crisis gripping the nation.

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The charity used Office for National Statistics data to work out the average combined salary of a full-time and part-time worker on low incomes in every region of England, to represent what it termed a “typical working family”.

In the North West, they would take home a combined £23,368 a year after tax.

Privately renting a two-bed home in Wigan would cost the family £5,400 a year on average – 23.1 per cent of their pay packet.

This bucks the trend across England, where lower-income families in two-thirds of councils have to spend more than 30 per cent of their salary on private rent. In around a third of local authorities, this rises to more than 40 per cent, Shelter’s analysis shows.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Families in lower-paid jobs are having their bank balances bled dry by expensive private rents across huge swathes of the country.

“The steep decline in social housing has left a growing number of families caught in a debilitating rent trap.

“It’s disgraceful that, despite working every hour they can, many parents are now forced to rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their children’s heads.”

Ms Neate said it makes no sense to keep “haemorrhaging billions” in housing benefit to private landlords.

She added: “The next Prime Minister, whoever that may be, needs to realise social housing is the best cure to the affordability crisis we face.

“The delivery of 3.1 million new social homes over the next 20 years is the only way to lift millions out of housing poverty and into a stable home.”

Despite the relative affordability of rents in Wigan, the same-sized home at social rent rates would set the same family back just £4,107 a year on average, or 17.6 per cent of their wage.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing good quality social housing.

“We are investing £9bn to build more affordable homes across England, and we have abolished councils’ borrowing cap – allowing them to build a new generation of social housing.”