Key workers and housing affordability

Research by the gradual homeownership provider, Wayhome, has revealed which key workers currently face the toughest challenge when it comes to house price affordability, based on their house price to income ratio, as well as which have seen the largest reduction in affordability since the start of the pandemic.

Related topics:  Finance,  FTB,  affordability
Property | Reporter
15th February 2023
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Wayhome analysed current housing affordability across 20 key worker categories based on the current housing affordability ratio - current average house price divided by the average annual gross salary.

Across the UK, the current average house price of £294,910, coupled with an average annual gross salary of £33,402, places the average housing affordability ratio at 8.8.

Those hit by the lowest level of housing affordability in the current market is key workers within the education and childcare sectors. With average earnings of £14,085, they would need 20.9 times their income to afford the current average UK house price.

Refuse collectors (13.1), those working in food production (12.7), national and local government employees (12.4), clergy (11.5), bus drivers (11.3) and postal workers (10.6) are also some of the worst affected by current housing affordability with a double-digit affordability ratio meaning they would need over 10 times their income to cover the average cost of a property.

Other key workers with an affordability ratio coming in above the UK average of 8.8 include midwives (9.8), prison officers (9.5) and nurses (9.4), while journalists (8.7) and firefighters (8.7), teachers (8.5) and social workers (8.3) are also hovering dangerously close to the national benchmark.

Those facing the lowest financial hurdle when it comes to property price affordability include doctors (4.4), lawyers (5), and train drivers (5).

When looking at this gauge of housing market affordability today versus pre-pandemic (2019), it’s childcare staff who have also seen the biggest squeeze, with a 3.1 increase in their housing affordability ratio.

Other key workers to have seen a notable increase in this measure of purchasing power include national and local government employees (+2.7), journalists (+2.6) and bus drivers (+2.2).

Nigel Purves, Co-founder and CEO of Wayhome, commented: “While we often think of nurses, paramedics, and police on the frontline when it comes to key workers, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has shone a light on those diligently providing other key services that we may have previously taken for granted.

"Despite their valiant efforts in providing these essential services, many continue to suffer from below-par wage growth which is seriously hampering their ability to climb the property ladder, particularly when you consider the huge rates of house price growth that have swept the market during the pandemic.

"In fact, the majority of those working within these key sectors rank below the national average when looking at the current housing affordability ratio, and at Wayhome, key workers account for over a third of all buyers we see come through the doors.”

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