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English spend 30% of income on rent, big north-south divide

Staff Writer | August 6, 2016
Over a third of disposable income is spent on rent in parts of England, according to a BBC investigation, but suggests a north-south divide in the housing market.
England homes
Britain   Analysis by BBC England
Analysis by BBC England found that renters pay more than 30% of their median take-home salary on housing, especially in London.

The most affordable place to rent in England is Copeland in Cumbria which has cheap rent, high wages and where average pay can go the furthest.

Think-tanks Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said if you spend over a third of income on rent or a mortgage you may not be able to afford other basic needs.

The median monthly salary in England after tax and national insurance is about £1,833, so rent should about £550 a month. The average price of a room is £382 and a one bedroom property is £694 a month.

The investigation found, using data from the national office of statistics, that in London renting a studio flat, which on average nationally is £640, exceeds 30% of disposable income in every London borough expect Bexley.

In Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster a studio flat exceeds £1,000 a month.

Within the recommended limits it is nigh impossible to rent a one, two or three bedroom house or flat in London. In the City of London, a one-bedroom property would cost more than half disposable income.

An average room in London costs £607 a month, compared to £424 across the southeast, the most expensive in parts of Surrey, Oxfordshire and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

The investigation found that renting a room in the north west and north east of England fell within the 30% limit, except in Cheshire.

Renting a one-bedroom property was also more affordable in the north except in Salford, Trafford and Manchester city centre.

It was a similar situation in the Midlands as renting a single room also fell within the 30% limit, but renting a one bedroom property exceeds the limit in Nottingham, Northampton, Warwickshire, Stratford upon Avon, Redditch and Birmingham.