MBD analysis shows that most areas of England and Wales have seen a decline in the quality of life since 2015.

First-time buyers have seen the gap between their wages and house prices grow in the vast majority of councils in England and Wales, casting doubt on Boris Johnson’s promise to “turn generation rent into generation buy”.

Just over a year ago, the prime minister said he wanted to give people “the fundamental life-affirming power of home ownership” and “spread that opportunity to every part of the country”.

MBD analysis of prices paid by first-time buyers, however, shows that the affordability gap has grown in 98% of England’s local authorities since 2015, and in every part of Wales.

The traditional benchmark for mortgage affordability is that the amount required from a lender – the property price minus a 10% deposit – should not exceed 4.5 times the buyer’s wage or the combined wage of a couple.

But that target is unachievable for single first-time buyers – who are typically aged 32 – in 95% of local authorities in England, based on the median earnings for people in their 30s.

Single first-time buyers in Wales would struggle to buy a home within the 86% of local authorities. Although couples are better off, they will struggle to keep within 4.5 times their incomes in 31% of England’s council areas.

The analysis looked at the affordability impact of six years since the Conservatives won a majority in parliament. The party’s 2015 manifesto said, “everyone who works hard should be able to own a home of their own” and outlined schemes for cut-price starter homes and a help-to-buy Isa.

In the run-up to the 2019 election, the party said: “For the UK to unleash its potential, young people need the security of knowing that home ownership is within their reach.”

Since then, the help to buy mortgage loan program has been extended. In addition, a 95% guarantee scheme on mortgages was established this year. The analysis however shows that homes have become increasingly expensive in recent years.

“Home ownership is now almost completely out of reach for most people on average or low incomes – with house prices continuing to soar, most people can’t scrape together a sky-high deposit to buy and so are stuck paying extortionate private rents,” Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said.

“The government has plowed money into a series of expensive home ownership schemes that most people can never hope to benefit from, as they still require a sizeable deposit when most renters don’t have any savings.”

Salford in north-west England, which is the largest city, saw the highest increase in house values. Over six years, the average house price has risen by 58% for first-time buyers.

Housing table*Cost in average salaries is calculated by the multiple of the median salary needed to make up the cost of the average first-time buyer’s home

Despite Salford is one of the most deserving local authorities in England, this is still a remarkable achievement.

In 2015, a single first-time buyer would have needed 4.4 times an individual’s wage to afford a typical mortgage, within the affordability criteria generally sought by lenders.

The area’s median income today for a managed 30 years old would be 6.8x the average salary.

For couples wanting to get on the property ladder, a property is affordable in Bristol. However, prices have not risen with increasing wages. They were four times the average joint wage in 2015, and now they are 5.1x their combined salaries by 2021.

The two-thirds limit on the number of London boroughs that are available to couples seeking to buy their first home in London is prohibitive.

Blaenau Gwent, Wales, saw the greatest increase in house prices between 2015 and 2021. The median income of buyers in their 30s is $5,300. However, prices have risen 52.7%.

Conversely, while prices haven’t risen as fast, the gap between a first-time buyer’s wage and the average property price was within the 4.5 times limit in 2015 but has since risen to beyond 5.5 times the average salary in Caerphilly, Torfaen, and Carmarthenshire.

This analysis was done with data from Office for National Statistics. It shows the median gross year income for the age group of 30-39 for 2015 and 2020 at a regional level. This data is then compared to the August 2015 and August 2021 house price data as reported by Land Registry.

Affordability is defined as 4.5 times a person’s salary or a couple’s combined salary compared with a typical mortgage required for a first-time buyer in each council area. For a typical house, a deposit of 10% is required. This calculation was made using 90% of an average property from the Land Registry.

The gap between first-time buyers’ wages and house prices has grown in 98% of council areas in England and Wales since 2015

Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy director of the campaign group Generation Rent, said: “It is already a struggle to save the deposit to buy your first home, and as prices have shot up home ownership has become even harder … The government has intervened to encourage banks to lend at higher loan-to-value ratios, so buyers don’t need as much in savings. But ultimately if you’re borrowing that much, your monthly repayments will be huge.”

“Ultimately, the only sustainable way the government can help people buy a home is to throw everything they have at reducing rents. That means building more homes where people want to live, and more council homes.”

A spokesperson for the government said: “Our economy is on track to reach pre-pandemic levels around the turn of the year and wages are rising in real terms.

“We know how important it is for people to own their own home, which is why we have supported over 700,000 households into ownership through shared ownership and help to buy since 2010, and our new First Homes scheme will provide homes at a discount of at least 30% for local first-time buyers.

“We’re also investing over £12bn in affordable homes over the next five years –the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade, alongside increasing skills funding and the national living wage.”

This article was revised on 22/11/2021. The gap between first-time buyers’ wages and house prices has grown in 98% of council areas in England and Wales since 2015
, not by 98% across England and Wales as stated in a previous heading on the maps graphic. Also, Boris Johnson’s quote was from just over a year ago, not just over a decade ago.