Rental costs in the South East price public service staff out of housing, says UNISON

High rental costs mean many public service employees in the South East are spending over 60% of their wages on rent, according to research published today (Tuesday) by UNISON.

Hospital porters are struggling the most, with rents swallowing up over half their take home pay in the South East which is the second most expensive region after London.

The findings are based on the average private rent for a one bedroom property in each local authority area across England, compared with the pay for some public sector jobs*.

Oxford, and Epsom and Ewell are the most expensive areas in the South East, where 84% of an NHS porter’s salary would go on rent, 70% of a teaching assistant’s, 67% of a refuse driver’s, 63% of a nurse’s and 61% of a PCSO’s.

In 72 out of the 74 local authority areas in the region, a teaching assistant would have to pay more than a third of their wages in rent.

UNISON Regional Secretary, Steve Torrance said: “Sky high rents mean public sector staff have less money to spend on food, clothes and getting to work.

“The housing crisis is affecting people up and down the country. Employees are being forced to work further away from where they do their jobs, and young people cannot afford to move out of the family home.

“There needs to be less talk and more action by the government on housing.”

Notes to editors:
– * The data is based on the starting salaries of a band 2 NHS porter, a band 5 nurse, a refuse driver on local authority scale point 21 and a special needs teaching assistant on scale point 19. For the PCSO it is the typical starting rate plus shift allowances. London salary figures are based on the NHS high cost area supplement for inner London, the inner London weighting and fringe area allowance for local government jobs, and the PCSO (including shift and location allowances) pay rates as published on the Metropolitan Police website.
– A new NHS pay deal has just been accepted by health workers and is due to be ratified at a meeting of the NHS staff council later this month. NHS pay figures (porter and nurse) in this report are based on current salaries, not on the amount they will get in their summer pay packets.
– Spending more than a third of take home salary on housing is used as a benchmark by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in monitoring poverty, and by the Royal Town Planning Institute for measuring housing affordability.
– The average rental costs come from the Valuation Office Agency’s Private Rental Market Statistics (September 2017)
– The full UNISON housing report is available here.
– This week is UNISON’s national conference which runs for four days from Tuesday (19 June); the local government conference (Sunday 17 to Monday 18 June); water, environment and transport (Sunday 17 to Monday 18 June); and energy (Monday 18 June). All conferences take place in Brighton at the Brighton Centre.

-UNISON Regional Secretary, Steve Torrance will be available for interview from Brighton during these dates.

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