Lower property prices combined with increased earnings have seen a 10-fold rise in the number of UK towns where key public workers including nurses can afford to buy a home, research has found.
While only 3% of towns had properties within an affordable price range in 2007, that figure has now jumped to 38%. But the study by the Halifax also found that house prices in almost two-thirds of towns (62%) are still too high to allow workers such as nurses and paramedics to set up home.
The fall in house prices over the last four years has been the most significant factor in pushing up the affordability of homes, but the rate is still well below the 64% mark of 10 years ago.
Figures relating specifically to nurses show that 22% of towns contain properties that would be affordable, which compares with only 7% four years ago. The figure in 2001 was still much higher though, when 55% of towns had homes within their price range.
Some areas are more affordable than others, with the research indicating that Nelson in Lancashire is the most affordable town for key workers, where the average property costs 2.1 times their salary. Also at the more affordable end of the market were Lochgelly in Fife and Bootle in Merseyside.
Commenting on other efforts to increase the prospects of workers such as nurses being able to afford a home, Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Halifax, added: “Government schemes to assist low-cost home ownership are welcome, although it remains to be seen how big the impact on key workers will be.”
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