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“I don’t want to belittle those people who can’t do it. But there are loads of people who can do it and don’t. It is hard. We’ve fallen into the trap of saying it’s impossible for everybody. I was brought up to believe owning your home is the be all and end all and in a way I still believe that…It’s about where you can buy, not if you can buy.”
These were the words this weekend of TV’s Kirstie Allsopp, stating that people who wanted to afford housing should move “somewhere cheaper” and cut back on “luxuries” such as avocado toast and Netflix. Her attitude has unsurprisingly stirred up a lot of comment.
This has caused vast uproar on social media due to the inference that £5.99 a month on a Netflix subscription could in fact result in home ownership and shows an incredibly tone deaf attitude when so many can barely afford to eat, The New Statesman has gone as far as to call it “Victim blaming for a broken housing market” .
MoneyMagpie’s Jasmine Birtles adds: “It’s all very well for someone like Kirstie, who comes from money and earns well, to say that young people could afford to buy a property if they just stopped buying lattes, but for most young people now who are coping with huge hikes in the cost of living, their extra money is going on paying bills and keeping themselves fed.
“Sure there are a few who are on a good salary and really could cut down on some luxuries to get a downpayment on a house, if they look in a cheap area (as Kirstie says), but the vast majority do not have that ability; they are either already struggling to pay the basics or scared that very soon they will be in that position.
“There is a lot of fear about right now. The messages we get from many readers at MoneyMagpie.com are cries for help. Many, many people are genuinely afraid that they won’t be able to put food on the table.
“It’s more helpful to recognise the worrying situation that millions of Brits are in right now – both young and old – and did what I am currently doing which is finding ways with which people can save and make money day-to-day to help pay bills and keep food on the table.”
The average house price in the UK is £268,349, while in 2021, the average annual salary for the UK was £25,971. The average rent is £968 per month per home.
Mortgage lenders normally lend 4.5 times people’s salary. Where does the rest come from? Some lenders announced at the end of last year they would do 7 times, but that is still unusual and has a huge amount of criteria. Some of these mortgages could not even be paid off within our lifetime (we take a look at that here).
Compare this to our parents: in 1999, the average house price was £63,640 and the average wage per year £17,800, a sum of about 3.5 times people’s wages.
This hike is comparitively huge compared to previous generations and while it was always difficult. For many who are shelling out a mojority of their wages on rent, they are unable to make the savings to shell out on such an investent.
Clearly there is a disparity between what Kirstie Allsopp is suggesting and what is possible for the average UK house buyer.
Although it is not impossible, for many to have the same chance of a housing investment as others means huge sacrifices from the whole family.
Often living rent free with family members, and while yes not taking holidays, also not having any luxuries at all. Therfore it’s also clear that those who come from perceived privilege should carefully consider what they’re saying regarding the judgement of others from more humble backgrounds, if they don’t want to raise the ire of most of the nation. Then again, perhaps Allsopp wanted to encourage passionate debate, and it’s abundantly clear she has.