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Nurses can only afford to own home in 3% of British towns, report finds

Nurses can afford to buy a home in just 3% of towns across Great Britain, down from 12% from five years ago, new research from British bank Halifax shows.  

The average public sector worker has seen a widening gap between wages and house prices with only 8% of towns offering affordable property, down from 24% in 2014.  

Nurses are priced out of the largest number of towns, followed by firefighters, who can only afford property in 5% of areas, and then teachers (9%), paramedics (15%) and police (18%).   

A home costs around 18 times a key worker’s average wage in some areas, including Rickmansworth, Westminster and Richmond Upon Thames, according to the findings.

The decrease in affordability is due to house prices outpacing earnings growth for public sector workers, said Andrew Mason, head of mortgages at Halifax.  

Average house prices rose by 32% between 2014 and 2019, more than four times the increase in key worker average annual earnings, which grew by 7%.   

Mr Mason said: 'Over the past five years, wages have not increased in line with average house prices across Great Britain and this has had a knock-on impact on affordability for key workers.

'Those working in nursing have seen the number of affordable towns plummet to only 3%, compared to 12% in 2014. 

‘Schemes like Help to Buy along with continued low mortgage rates and changes to Stamp Duty for first-time buyers could give key workers the opportunity to get on the ladder when they otherwise might have thought properties were out of reach.’ 

Halifax deemed a town unaffordable if house prices were more than four times average annual earnings. Figures used for salaries were not entry-level posts - for example, the average salary for a nurse was calculated as £34,064.