House prices outstrip wages and push new homes out of reach

    Knights Wood Tunbridge Wells

    The dream of buying a house in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge is becoming ever more unobtainable, new figures have revealed.

    People hoping to buy in Tunbridge Wells will need to stump up 10.6 times the average wage, making it the second highest ratio in Kent after Sevenoaks, where the house prices are 13.7 times the average wage.

    The figures, released by the GMB union, show the average house price in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells is currently £372,840, while the average wage is £35,000.

    In Tonbridge and Malling, the average house price of £345,894 is 9.9 times average earnings, which currently stand at £34,996.

    A ratio of 4.5 times a borrower’s income is generally regarded as the maximum that banks and building societies will lend.

    Expensive mistake

    Paul Maloney, GMB regional secretary, said: “We have been talking about this problem for far too long, there can be no excuses for not providing housing to people that they can afford to live in on average wages.

    “The decisions of the Thatcher government in the 1980’s to sell council housing stock, and not replace it, and to pay landlords housing benefit instead of providing social housing directly has been a huge and expensive mistake.

    “Last year, for example, £24 billion was spent on housing benefit. If a fraction of that amount had been spent on social housing for rent, the strain on the tax payer would be less and people would have housing they can afford to live in.”

    According to the National Housing Federation, the South East needs to build 39,000 new homes every year from 2011 until 2031.