Home ownership 'out of reach' warning in Wales

Owning your own home in Wales has become a "pipe dream" for many public sector workers, a trade union has warned.

It would take a teaching assistant or a NHS cleaner almost two decades to save for a mortgage deposit, Unison claims.

Its report calculated that those in low-paid sectors would need mortgages worth six times their annual salaries.

The Welsh Government said it is working to increase the range of home ownership options available in Wales.

"Owning a home is now little more than a pipe dream for most public sector workers," said Unison's assistant general secretary, Margaret Thomas.

"Deposits and mortgages are quite simply way out of reach, while spiralling cost of renting is eating up a growing proportion of the take home pay.

"Decisive, creative and responsible action is needed now."

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The union looked at five separate jobs and average salaries for NHS cleaners, teaching assistants, librarians, nurses and police community support officers.

It estimated that if they saved £100 a month towards a home deposit - it would take on average 17 years to save enough to have the down-payment.

In Monmouthshire, which is Wales' most expensive local authority for housing, it would take 24 years to amass the deposit.

Unison said a NHS cleaner earning £17,460 a year would have to borrow on average more than six times their salary for a first-time mortgage.

A nurse on a salary of £23,000 would have to take a mortgage that was nearly five times their annual salary.

But it says as the Bank of England's maximum limit for lending is 4.5 times a salary - that would put a mortgage out of reach for a NHS cleaner in all local authorities in Wales - except Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent.

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The "Where can I afford to live?" calculator uses pricing and rental data for the six months up to August 2018 provided by residential property analysts Hometrack.

Monthly mortgage payments are based on the figures calculated by the Bank of England from rates currently being offered by banks and building societies. The rate used is for two year, fixed rate mortgages, so would only be relevant for the first two years of the loan.

Every month, the Bank of England brings out figures for people wanting a mortgage for 75% or 90% or 95% of the value of the property they want to buy. So currently the calculator assumes you need a deposit of at least 5% of the value of the property to get a mortgage.

House prices are based on sales recorded by the Land Registry and Registers of Scotland plus Red Book mortgage valuation - where a surveyor has valued a property for the purpose of mortgage lending.

"The struggle for housing cuts across generations, jobs and regions," added Unison's assistant general secretary.

"Employees are being forced to work further away for their jobs, and young people cannot afford to move out of the family home."

The Welsh Government said its Help to Buy scheme had supported the construction and sale of 7,000 homes between 2014 and 2018, while its Rent to Own scheme launched this year was enabling tenants to use a proportion of rental payments to be used as a deposit on their home.

"We recognise that rising house prices and higher deposit requirements are making it more difficult for potential home buyers to get their foot on the housing ladder," added a government official.

"We are working to increase and improve the range of options available to people who wish to own their own home."

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