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Why should someone on less than median pay be able to afford the median house?

Summary:
It’s very difficult indeed to work out precisely what it is that The Guardian is complaining about here:Low-paid key workers on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic would not be able to afford to buy the average priced home in 98% of Great Britain, an exclusive Guardian analysis has found. Years of rising prices have put homeownership out of reach of many key workers, who have also experienced pay freezes and had to channel their wages into paying high private rents, rather than being able to save for a deposit.The Guardian’s analysis, which was based on the sums needed for a 90% mortgage, found that a nurse on the median wage of £33,920 a year would not be able to raise a big enough mortgage to buy the median-priced property in almost three-quarters of local authorities nationwide.Yes,

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It’s very difficult indeed to work out precisely what it is that The Guardian is complaining about here:

Low-paid key workers on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic would not be able to afford to buy the average priced home in 98% of Great Britain, an exclusive Guardian analysis has found.

Years of rising prices have put homeownership out of reach of many key workers, who have also experienced pay freezes and had to channel their wages into paying high private rents, rather than being able to save for a deposit.

The Guardian’s analysis, which was based on the sums needed for a 90% mortgage, found that a nurse on the median wage of £33,920 a year would not be able to raise a big enough mortgage to buy the median-priced property in almost three-quarters of local authorities nationwide.

Yes, this seems obvious.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the median salary for a senior care worker in the UK stood at £21,243 in 2020.

Based on these earnings, with a 10% deposit to put down, a senior care worker would be able to afford the average priced property in just six council areas in Great Britain, locking them out of 98% of areas.

So does that.

Someone paid less than the average cannot afford the average. Seems simple enough to us. The nurse example, the first one, is only very slightly more complex. The median - even modal - UK household contains two earners. Therefore it’s not a grand surprise that the median - even modal - house costs more than can be afforded upon one income.

The correct response to this complaint is a shrug and “Yes, that’s how numbers work”.

The lower paid do not afford the average car, the average weekly food shop, the average clothing budget, this is what making less than the average wage means. Why would or even should housing be any different?

This is all entirely different from whether housing is too expensive - it is - or whether we should do anything about the price of housing - we should, build more of it. Or even our perennial suggestion, blow up the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and successors. It is also nothing to do with whether care workers should be paid less than the average wage, nurses about spot on it.

Maths just does work out that those with lower than average incomes can buy less than the average. And?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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