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31 May 2013

Housing crisis choking economic recovery, say businesses

Press release from the National Housing Federation:

Sky-rocketing rents and house prices are stifling local businesses and making it difficult for them to recruit staff, according to employers around England.

A ComRes survey for the National Housing Federation found that nearly four in five employers say the lack of affordable housing is stalling economic growth in local communities, with 70% warning it would affect their ability to attract and keep workers.

The report also found that:

  • More than half (55%) of managers say that the availability of affordable housing would be important if they were moving to another area or expanding their business
  • Nearly eight out of ten (78%) say that house prices are a problem in their local area
  • Over 70% agree that building more homes would stimulate the local economy and bring in more business and customers
  • Nearly three in five (58%) say that building more homes would help them recruit and retain staff.

National Housing Federation director Gill Payne says:

“Our economic recovery is being held back because there aren’t enough homes in England today, and this lack of homes has pushed up prices and rents beyond people’s reach.

“As a result, businesses are finding it tough to attract workers and expand because many people can’t buy a home or would struggle to pay high rents. If things don’t change, employers will simply move - potentially out of the country - taking away desperately needed jobs.

"We need to build more homes that people can afford in the right places so that businesses can grow, take on local staff, inject new life into struggling communities and steer us out of this economic rut.”

Wensleydale Creamery is based in the small North Yorkshire market town of Hawes. The company is the UK’s only official producer of Wensleydale cheese, made famous in Nick Park’s popular children’s animation Wallace and Gromit.

Lynn Peacock, human resources manager for Wensleydale Creamery, said:

“We do struggle on occasions to retain staff due to the high costs of housing in rural North Yorkshire. Over the years we’ve had employees who have really found it difficult to find affordable accommodation locally, and as a result some are forced to move away.

“Wensleydale Creamery is an iconic brand, and we try to invest in our local community whenever possible. But the lack of affordable homes for rent and sale can make this more difficult.”

Employers also had an urgent message for local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) - local public-private partnerships designed to boost economic growth and create jobs. Four out of five (79%) employers aware of LEPs said that local investment in affordable housing should be part of LEPs’ strategy for growth and jobs when deciding how to distribute the Government’s Local Growth Fund. 1

Gill Payne added:

“We need at least 240,000 new homes each year, but we’re building less than half that number. LEPs need to act on what local employers think, say yes to more homes and put investment in affordable housing at the top of their agenda.

“Building more homes can kick-start local economies faster than any other industry, create jobs and can keep local shops or pubs open. It could be the crucial difference between a thriving community and a dead ghost town.”

A recent report by the National Housing Federation found that the average price of a home in England for a first-time buyer in 2012 was £173,185. By 2020, this will increase by 42% to £245,165. Rents are set to rise by around 6% a year as interest rates and house prices rise. In 2018, private rents will be 32% more than they are today.3

The National Housing Federation has launched a campaign, Yes to Homes, to show how people in local communities who want more affordable housing can get their voices heard.