” … In Manchester we felt we needed our own housing affordability policy; one that would reflect the needs of the people who live in the city. We believe the most useful measure is to take the average household income across the city, and then use a standard marker of 30% of that annual income in rent or mortgage repayments to understand what most people can afford.
In Manchester that is around £8,250 – 30% of £27,500 a year. The formula is easy to apply, and could be picked up by any other local authority unconvinced by the 80% affordability measure.
Of course there will be households who earn less than this, or rely on some form of welfare support to get a decent home. There will still be housing options for those families and individuals. But by using this 30% benchmark we can be confident that this offers an affordable route on to the housing ladder for far more of our residents than would otherwise be possible.
As an example, in Harpurhey, north Manchester, we supported the refurbishment of terraced homes that have sold for £85,000 to people on modest working incomes. This proves that we are helping to develop housing that is truly affordable.
If you really want more houses built, Sajid Javid, stop strangling councils
There is still a huge challenge to be faced in making sure that there are enough homes as our population continues to grow. Losses through right to buy and demolitions represent a major obstacle; we are having to replace lost housing each year while maintaining a desirable level of social housing, in balance with private rented homes and those for purchase, across the city.
Our target is to help deliver between 1,000 and 2,000 genuinely affordable homes in the city, and to maintain that steady supply year on year. Butthis should not take place in isolation. We want all our residents to have access to different types of housing – and for them to be able to afford them.
Bernard Priest is the deputy leader of Manchester city council”