A new way of measuring the cost of housing shows one in five households in England are currently in 'unaffordable' accommodation, according to its authors.
The Affordable Housing Commission says its new measure of affordability looks at the level of income spent on housing that is likely to cause hardship and stress, rather than focusing on market rents and house prices.
The research reveals that when rents or purchase costs exceed a third of household income for those in work it can lead to financial difficulties, arrears and debts, meaning it is unaffordable.
The finding in the commission’s report Defining and measuring housing affordability – an alternative approach says the worst outcomes are found in the private rented sector where 43% of all renters are facing affordability problems.
Lord Richard Best, who chairs the Affordable Housing Commission, said: 'The term “affordable” has become a much-abused word in housing circles.
'Successive governments have taken it to mean “rents or purchase costs which are lower than in the open market.”
'But paying rents of, say, 80% of the market level is still far beyond the means of many who need a home.'