Bristol’s housing challenges spotlighted at Westminster

Commons 15 Dec 2015Bristol’s housing challenges have been highlighted by a city MP at Westminster.

Karin Smyth, Bristol South’s MP, explained to the House of Commons how rising property prices in the city, combined with other factors, make the problems facing Bristol’s would-be buyers and renters “particularly challenging”.

She outlined how:
• Property prices in Bristol have soared in the past 12 months, with only London, Cambridge and Oxford recording greater percentage increases than Bristol
• Rents have also been rising through 2015 and are expected to continue into 2016.
• The electrification of the London-Bristol rail line, reducing travel times by 15 minutes, will compound the issues, effectively putting Bristol in the same commuter belt as Oxford.
• An influx of property buyers from London and even from overseas is also having a further influence on Bristol’s house sales market
• A 3 per cent stamp duty increase in April will have a further effect as landlords raise rents further to cover additional costs
• 10,000 people in Bristol are waiting for social housing but thousands of properties in the city are standing empty
• The city has an average property price of £210,000 but an average salary of just £22,000 per annum.

The Labour MP said house price rises “might be good for investors, landlords and buyers-to-let. But for young people particularly and for people looking to get on the housing ladder it is not a good picture.”

She said that Bristol and other authorities across the country “need to learn from each other and share good practice”, citing Labour-run Plymouth which is bringing empty homes back into use and increasing new home building, much of it affordable and on brown-field sites.

Karin Smyth added: “We also need to be aware of the impact on an ageing population in the city. The shortage of affordable housing is a social time-bomb, whose effects hit older people too. There are care staff in a range of professions, whose work helps ensure Bristol’s ageing population can continue to live independently in their own homes, rather than going into residential care.

“But they are poorly paid for their support and are beginning to find themselves priced out as demand continues to outstrip supply. What happens to Bristol’s ageing population when the care staff that are increasingly needed simply cannot afford to rent or buy a home in or close to the city?”