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Private renting in UK 'unaffordable for low-wage families in two-thirds of country'

Victoria Jones/PA Wire

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

Private renting is unaffordable for working families on low wages in two-thirds of the country, a new study suggests.

Housing charity Shelter analysed average private rents for two-bedroom homes in every local council area in England to assess whether they would be affordable to working families in lower paid jobs.

The findings indicated that, excluding housing benefit, there are 218 council areas where local families earning a low wage would be forced to spend more than 30% of their salary on rent.

In 112 of these areas this rises to more than 40%.

Shelter mapped the hotspots where private renting is the least affordable, Kensington and Chelsea in London topping the list with the average rent in the borough equivalent to 127% of a low earning family's take-home pay, followed by Westminster at 111% and Camden where rents swallow 92% of pay.

Shelter said that in stark contrast to private renting, social rents were found to be affordable for working families on low wages in 100% of the country.

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.

"It makes no sense to continue haemorrhaging billions of pounds in housing benefit to private landlords, when the Government could support families by investing in a sustainable, long-term solution to the housing emergency instead.

"The next Prime Minister 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."