NEW figures released by the National Housing Federation reveal South Lakeland is the most unaffordable place to live in the North West.
House and rent prices are at an all-time high, wages are barely increasing and it would take 66,458 years to house everyone currently on the social housing waiting list.
Average house prices and rent costs have risen by 75 per cent and 14 per cent respectively since 2002, meaning the ratio of house prices to income per annum is 12.2/1.
The knock-on effects of high prices and low wages mean young people are moving away, businesses choose to open elsewhere, and more people are homeless.
Penny Severn, manager of the Housing and Benefits Advice Service, said: “We have noticed a steady increase in homelessness in the last few years. Our statistics show in January to March 2013 we had 10 homeless people, January to March this year we had 24.
“That’s the first time it’s been such a high number.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “We need more well paid jobs and this is something I’m campaigning for. We also need truly affordable social rented and council houses for local families. It’s appalling that in significant parts of the UK you need a salary of £100,000 to stay in the village you grew up in. My mission is to allow every young family in our area to have a roof over their head.”
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Coun Heidi Halliday, a member of South Lakeland District Council, said: “Our young people are unable to stay in the area where they grew up. Many do want to stay and continue to be a part of that community, but the lack of truly affordable housing prevents this.
“Businesses also suffer as they are unable to attract and employ local workers in areas such as tourism and retail.
“With young people leaving it becomes more and more difficult to maintain vibrant and sustainable communities. Once communities have reached a tipping point, there is no going back so we all need to work together to prevent this happening.”
Lawrence Conway, Chief Executive of South Lakeland District Council, said: “The figures from the National Housing Federation demonstrate exactly why SLDC is committed to providing 1,000 new jobs and 1,000 affordable rented homes in South Lakeland through its Council Plan.
“Our land allocations aim to enable sites to be developed over the next 10 years in a way which encourages employment and tackles the acute shortage of affordable houses and flats to rent for local people.
“Our Local Plan, a blueprint for future land use up to 2025, earmarks a number of sites for new homes and businesses.
“Families, single people, and older residents who are desperate for somewhere to live will benefit, as will firms which want to expand and create new jobs.
“We are also addressing the issue of second homes by asking government for greater planning powers to allow us to restrict the number of holiday houses in parts of South Lakeland where where high levels of second homes are undermining the long-term viability of those communities.’’