Property market 'excludes key workers'
The number of towns where key public-sector workers cannot afford to buy a property has nearly doubled in the past three years.
13:25 21 May 2005
The number of towns where key public-sector workers cannot afford to buy a property has nearly doubled in the past three years, according to a new survey.
Nurses are now priced out of the property market in 93 per cent of towns in Britain, while firefighters are unable to buy homes in 90 per cent, a study by Halifax reveals.
Police officers fail to get on the property ladder in 71 per cent of towns and the number of places that teachers cannot afford to purchase houses almost doubled from 34 per cent to 77 per cent since 2001.
The research found that the property divide was no longer confined to London and the South East, with the number of towns in the North deemed too expensive for nurses up from 13 per cent in 2001 to 79 per cent in 2004.
In Scotland, nurses are failing to enter the property market in 62 per cent of towns, up from five per cent three years ago.
Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire is the most unaffordable town in Britain for all four groups of key workers - nurses, firefighters, teachers and police - with the average house price 26 times higher than the average nurse's salary. Gerrards Cross is followed by Weybridge and Richmond as the most unaffordable UK towns.
There are now just two towns in Britain - Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath, both in Scotland - where nurses can buy a home with a mortgage of the traditional three times their salary.
Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, Martin Ellis, said: "Unaffordability was previously a London phenomenon but has now become a national issue."
He added that there was a argument for the government significantly extending its affordable housing schemes beyond London and the South East.