HOUSE prices in Comet country have nearly doubled in just a decade, with the increase up to five times more than the rise in people’s salaries.

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How the figures compare

CENTRAL BEDS

Average house prices

2001: £131,614. 2011 £219,219 (66.6%)

Average salary

2001: £18,346. 2011: £20,805 (13.4%)

Average deposit

2001: £13,161. 2011: £54,805

NORTH HERTS

Average house prices

2001: £148,289. 2011: £262,436 (77%)

Average salary

2001: £17,118. 2011: £20,134 (17.6%)

Average deposit

2001: £14,829. 2011: £65,609

STEVENAGE

Average house prices

2001: £106,341. 2011: £188,713 (77.5 per cent)

Average salary

2001: £17,446. 2011: £23,052 (32.1%)

Average deposit

2001: £10,634. 2011: £47,178

Figures released by the National Housing Federation (NHF) show there are large discrepancies between property prices and salaries in North Herts, Stevenage and Central Beds.

The biggest increase in property prices in the area is Stevenage, with 2011 prices 77.5 per cent more on average than those in 2001.

North Herts is not far behind, with an increase of 77 per cent in those 10 years.

There has been a 66.6 per cent rise in Central Beds.

That compares to a 32.1 per cent increase in salaries in Stevenage – more than half the rate property prices are increasing.

The average salaries in Central Beds and North Herts are both increasing at a rate that is about five times less than the rise in properties, by 13.4 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively.

Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said that the Government needed to tackle what she labelled a “very serious housing crisis”.

“What we need is a huge boost in social rented housing, and until we get that, we will not solve this crisis,” she said.

“In Stevenage, we really need to try and prevent people going into overcrowded housing, or housing that’s not in very good condition.

“We have huge numbers of people coming into our customer services in absolute dire need of housing.”

It is also becoming harder to put down a deposit for a house.

In Stevenage, a 10 per cent deposit of just over £10,000 may have sufficed in 2001, whereas now, a 25 per cent deposit would often be needed. On an average house, that would cost £47,178.

Even higher deposits – at the same 25 per cent rate – in Central Beds and North Herts would set the buyer back £54,805 and £65,609 respectively.

David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: “These shocking figures show it is getting increasingly harder for millions of people to buy a home of their own in the current climate.

“With the gap between income and house prices growing ever wider, people can often feel like they have to win the lottery to be able to buy in their local area.”

The ratio between salaries and property prices are slightly lower than the national average in Stevenage and about the same in Central Beds, but significantly higher in North Herts.

But the district council says it is doing all it can to make it easier for people to buy.

Cllr Lynda Needham, leader of the council, said: “The figures from the (NHF) highlight a national picture, and the growth in the gap between average income and house prices in North Herts is slightly below the overall figure for Hertfordshire, and for the country as a whole.

“We actively support sustainable development in North Herts, and the provision of sufficient affordable housing is a key factor in approving any new development in the district.

“We are also helping to make housing affordable by launching a new mortgage scheme next month to assist those who can afford repayments, but not an initial deposit. This will not just benefit those who need help getting their foot on the housing the ladder, but will have a positive knock-on effect throughout the area.”

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