Oxford has been declared the least affordable city in the United Kingdom in the midst of the affordable housing crisis affecting the South of England, according to Lloyd’s.
In Oxford, average prices are at 10.68 times local earnings, with Winchester coming a close second at 10.54 and London in third at 10.06.
The bank’s analysis revealed that there is no longer a city in the South of England where house prices are less than seven and a half times average local incomes.
Leader of Oxford city council, Bob Price, told Cherwell, “Oxford has held this unenviable position for the past seven years. The city area is highly developed with virtually no sizeable brownfield sites left, and the natural areas for housing growth to the north and south are designated Green Belt and in other District Council planning control.
“The Green Belt has become Green Noose condemning half of the city’s workers to live many miles from their employment and commute into Oxford on congested roads. The impact of ridiculously high house prices and the requirements of commuting are causing major recruitment and retention problems for the universities, schools, the health service and for many firms in the booming high tech sectors where there is major competition for labour.”
Oxford professor of human geography Danny Dorling, author of a book on housing affordability, told Cherwell, “The question people in the university should be asking is who will be able to afford to live in Oxford who will teach their children, empty their bins and staff the shops they use? And who owns so much of the land around the end of the city within cycling distance of Carfax, where people could live who work in the city? Only after asking these two questions should we worry about how unaffordable housing is for our own students and staff.”
In its analysis, Lloyd’s noted that the last time prices reached such a high was at the pinnacle of the real estate boom in 2008, just prior to the financial crisis.
The insurance market’s analysis is unique in that it compares local house prices with local earnings rather than national averages.
As a result, the most expensive house prices are not in London but in other parts of the southeast.
In Cambridge, Brighton and Bath, prices are all now nearly 10 times local earnings, while in Bristol and Southampton prices are closer to eight times earnings.
Lloyd’s attributes the increasing problem with affordability to the slow growth of wages, which has fallen far behind the rate that house prices are increasing.
Sixty years ago, buyers could usually find a home with a mortgage three to four times their income, but this is now only the case in Derry in Northern Ireland where house prices in the city are currently 3.81 times local incomes.
Although the majority of the cities branded “most affordable” by Lloyd’s are in the North, Scotland and Northern Ireland, buyers will still find it difficult to afford a home if local salaries are taken into consideration.
OUSU Rent and Accomodations and Oxford Homeless Pathways have been contacted for comment. The University declined to comment.