Rent crisis in Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley exposed in new report by National Housing Federation

Almost a third of residents in Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley on housing benefits and in full time work still cannot afford their rent, according to figures released today.


The damning report by the National Housing Federation (NHF) shows that 34 per cent of housing benefit recipients with jobs in Lewisham fell into arrears, in Bexley it was 30 per cent and in Greenwich it stood at 27 per cent.


The London Home Truths report also shows the average home in Lewisham costs around £441,683 which is 14 times the typical salary and a worker on average earnings needs a 209 per cent pay rise to afford a mortgage.


Greenwich had the most expensive houses of the three boroughs at £452,901, but with higher average wages, workers only need a 192 per cent pay rise to afford a mortgage, 13 times the typical salary.


The report states that this makes home ownership impossible for many and blames “the growing crisis” on “a large shortfall of new housing.”


They estimate that between 2012 and 2016 6782 too few homes were built in Lewisham, 3226 in Bexley and Greenwich was 1930 homes below the required amount.


Ruth Williamson, external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “The housing market has seen a relentless rise in the gap between house prices and people’s salaries. Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley are no exception. Obtaining a mortgage is increasingly unrealistic and private sector rents make saving up that bit more difficult.


“As this year’s Home Truths report shows, it is more important than ever for the sector to be able to deliver homes that are truly affordable. If we want to get serious about ending the housing crisis, we need to start looking at unlocking more land so we can build homes faster.”


NHF collected data from the Office for National Statistics, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and Homes England.  


A spokesman for Lewisham council said: “Since 2007/8 we have exceeded our London Plan targets for house building by 3628 homes. We are working hard to tackle London’s housing crisis by building 500 council homes and 2000 affordable homes in Lewisham.”

A spokesman for Greenwich council said: “Quality, affordable housing is in scarce supply across the capital but Greenwich has a number of innovative projects underway to continue to increase the number of genuinely affordable homes for local people.

“The Mayor of London’s London Plan Annual Monitoring Report, published in July last year, found that the Greenwich delivered the second highest number of affordable homes in London in 2015/16.

“Our Community Benefit Society, Meridian Home Start, is building and delivering new affordable housing locally.

“Six sites have been secured across the Borough so far with more than 200 one, two, three and four bedroom properties set to be built and the first residents scheduled to move in by the end of the year.

“We will also continue our campaign to get the Government to lift their restrictions that prevent us from building even more.”

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