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Nurses, teachers and firefighters less able to afford homes, report finds

Housing affordability for key workers such as nurses, teachers and firefighters across Britain’s towns has worsened over the last five years, a report has found.

The Halifax Key Worker Housing Review tracks housing affordability for buyers for five groups of public sector workers – nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics – in 481 post towns or London boroughs across Britain.

The average priced-home in 14% of towns studied is affordable for the average key worker to buy, the research found.

In 2012 the average house was considered to be affordable in 32% of towns.

Halifax said the fall since 2012 follows house prices outpacing earnings growth for public sector workers.

Despite the deterioration in recent years, the situation has improved compared with a decade ago, Halifax said.

In 2007, homes in just 6% of towns were judged to be affordable for key workers.

The research compared average house prices with regional average earnings of key workers. Homes were deemed unaffordable if they cost more than four times wages. Halifax said the house price-to-earnings calculation was based on a single income.

Five of the 10 most affordable towns in Britain for key workers are in Scotland, the research found. Bootle and Nelson in the North West of England, however, are the most affordable towns in Britain for all key workers, the research found.

At the other end of the spectrum, a key worker in Camden in London faces paying 17 times their salary for a home.

Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax said: "Nationally, there have been improvements in the ability of key public sector workers to purchase their own home compared to 2007, at the peak of the last housing boom.

"More than one in 10 (14%) towns are now deemed affordable compared to just 6% a decade ago. The greatest concentration of affordable housing is found in towns in northern England, Scotland and Wales. However, there are significant affordability issues for key workers particularly in London and the South East.

"Over the last five years, there is clear evidence of a link between pay and the impact on affordability with house prices significantly outgrowing the average wages of key workers."

:: Here are the most affordable towns in Britain for key workers, according to Halifax, followed by the average house price-to-earnings ratio:

1. Bootle, North West, 2.86

2. Nelson, North West, 2.88

3. Grangemouth, Scotland, 2.92

4. Kilwinning, Scotland, 3.06

5. Lochgelly, Scotland, 3.11

6. Accrington, North West, 3.19

7. Wishaw, Scotland, 3.20

8. Peterlee, North East, 3.25

9. Aberdare, Wales, 3.34

10. Clydebank, Scotland, 3.39

And here are the 10 least affordable towns in the study, followed by the average house price-to-earnings ratio:

1. Camden, London, 17.35

2. Westminster, London, 16.75

3. Richmond, London, 16.59

4. Pinner, London, 16.14

5. Leatherhead, Surrey, 15.54

6. Islington, London, 15.24

7. Sevenoaks, Kent, 15.19

8. Richmond upon Thames, London, 15.17

9. Wandsworth, London, 14.90

10. Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, 14.66