In early January 2018, LUC published the Proposed Submission Sustainability Appraisal Report – Non-Technical Summary – for Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
At page 16 of the report and at Para 1.19 it states:
Access to the local housing market in the District is an issue as the average house price is more than six times the average household income.
Three months later the Council released there Healthier Housing Strategy 2018-2023 in April 2018. At Page 19, Para 5.4 it states:
Average house prices are currently nine times the current average household income for the district. Affordability for newly forming households looking to the housing market is even more problematic and average prices are closer to 9.5 times the average household income. Access to homeownership including low cost home ownership, such as shared ownership, is consequently beyond the financial means of many households not currently in homeownership.
So, according to the Council’s published information, the average household income had failed to keep pace with the increase in average houses prices by more than 50% in three months, which if true, would be astonishing.
According to the latest data available from HM Land Registry, displayed in the interactive graph below, the average price of a home in the Folkestone & Hythe District has reached £310,000. This now means average house prices are currently 10.2 times the current average household income for the district.
As the cost of housing is rising so much faster than wages, buyers have increasingly relied on family wealth. Inheritance, not work, will become the main route to home ownership in the district and the rest of the country.
For almost four decades, property prices have increased at a much faster rate than wages. Although this trend has hardly gone unnoticed, it has fundamentally reshaped levels of inequality in our district, and all the districts which make up the United Kingdom.
In our district both Child Poverty and household poverty have increased significantly ever since we started this blog back in March 2015.
In 2019, the End Child Poverty Campaign published figures which showed Child Poverty in the district was running at 32%. At a more granular level, 52% of children in Folkestone Central Ward (Councillors – Danny Brook (Con), Laura Davison (Lab) David Monk (Con)), were living in poverty.
With a doubling of those claiming Universal Credit in Folkestone & Hythe District from 4,585 people in Jan 2020, to 9,481 in Oct 2020, even more children and households will slip into poverty, be it relative or absolute. This will drive up inequality in our district and many others around the country.
And what with the average house price at Otterpool Park set to be approx £330,000, home ownership in this location for vast swathes of local residents, soon puts pay to the myth that the homes are for locals. They are for the London Overspill in the main.
Rent payments are the single biggest cost for many households in the district. Access to low-cost social rented housing is a key issue in preventing low income families being swept into poverty.
The 1,000 council homes Cllr Monk has promised to build in the next ten years, needs a watertight guarantee they are let at social rents, rather than affordable rents.
Social rented homes are typically about 50% of market rents, with long tenancies. Affordable Rent are rents charged at up to 80% of market rents and less secure tenancies than social tenants.
Council Tax is one of the key funding streams for the council and accounts for approximately two thirds of Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s income. But this source of income is falling significantly as covid-19 lays waste to a vast swathe of jobs across the district, meaning the amount of people claiming Council Tax reduction will impact on the council’s income significantly.
The number of households claiming Council Tax reduction in the district in August 2020, according to Cllr Tim Prater (Lib Dem), was 11,700, or 23%. We are certain this number has increased in the last four months.
Using Cllr Prater’s figures, we know the average council tax per dwelling in our district for 2020/21 is £1,525, according to the MHCLG. As such the reduction in council tax income to the council between April and August 2020 was £17,842,500.
Such a loss of income will impact on the council’s budget; which will come before the Council in Feb 2020.
At a time where East Kent Housing staff have migrated across to the Council and payroll totals have increased, the council will have less money to play with as the number of salaries to pay has increased. Of course, the Council could draw on their reserves and/or borrow to maintain the level of services with which we have all been familiar.
Add in the reduction of on street and off street parking, Business rates, and other income, the Council’s fiscal and economic policy is being decimated by covid-19, as are residents income.
“We have worked hard to create a balanced budget for 2020/21 and I am proud to say that it meets our aspirations for the district, maintains our existing services and represents a below inflation increase for residents.
“We are investing in local services to meet the current needs of our residents across the whole of our district. Yet we are also looking to the future and investing in refurbishing existing social housing and building a further 1,000 homes and ring-fencing funds to ensure the council meets its net-zero carbon targets by 2030.”
Also included in the spending plans for next year are additional environmental enforcement resources; increased funding for safeguarding and community projects; funding for high streets across the district; improved maintenance of public conveniences; investment in the Folkestone town centre regeneration scheme; funding to improve the processing of planning applications and investment in progressing the Otterpool Park garden town.
How many of these ambitions set out by Cllr Monk will have to be scaled back, or cut altogether, due to the decimation of the council’s finances caused by covid-19, is not known.
As sure as night follows day, more people will slip into either relative or absolute poverty, and less people in the district will be able to join the property ladder unless they inherit, or the bank of mum and dad can afford it.
If you are having problems paying your Council Tax, then contact:
Folkestone & Hythe District Council – 01303 853000, or use MyAccount