Is housing the cause or effect of social crises and can it be addressed locally? 

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17 January, 2022

Huge swathes of people in Bristol are struggling to find suitable, affordable homes and it’s a familiar story across the country as we head into 2022. Housing has come up repeatedly in Voscur’s work as part of Everyday Integration in Bristol, and this weekend it was discussed as a problem at the heart of a surprising number of other related challenges from pollution to inequality to intergenerational equity.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, and Tom Renhard (cabinet lead for housing) are inviting people to share their views about specific challenges in local communities and find out how the council is aiming to coordinate a collective response. 

There are significant challenges in the city and there needs to be concerted, strategic action to tackle them.

Buying a home

Housing is rapidly becoming unaffordable for first time buyers in Bristol. Demand is said to be ‘off the scale’ in part because of people from the South East moving down the M4, one of the city’s leading mortgage brokers has said.

The average house in the South West now costs £30,000 more than it did a year ago, and is fast approaching breaking the £300,000 mark for the first time in history. This means only first-time buyers in the top 20 per cent of earners will be able to afford a home, according to the Nationwide building society. Ten years ago, people in the top 40 per cent of earners could afford to buy a house for the first time in the South West.

Renting an affordable home

Affordable renting options are increasing hard to find in Bristol. People are being asked to pay rent which match costs in the capital, but without getting paid London wages. The supply of rented homes in Bristol is also down, which is pushing rental costs up.

Rental discrimination

Benefits claimants face prejudice when looking for a home to rent as well as those who are on lower incomes, those who do not have a guarantor, those who are self-employed or freelance. All of these groups are being prevented from renting homes because of demands for projected incomes, employment checks, up-front payments or outright refusals. Even when people can afford the rent, some landlords are asking people to pay a year’s rent up front, or are being rejected on the grounds that they don’t earn more than two times the monthly rent cost.

Unaffordable student accommodation

The cost of student accommodation in Bristol is 10% (almost £1,000 per academic year) more expensive than the national average, presenting an economic barrier to disadvantaged students that might want to study in the city.

How can the VCSE sector contribute to a solution? Structural challenges need structural changes that will involve a coordinated One City approach on a national scale. This briefing will help people working in communities to move the discussion forward and start translating policies into practice.

The event will take place online on Monday 31 January at 2pm to 4pm and you can book online.