In a new study, RAND Europe examined housing affordability in the Cambridge travel-to-work area. Researchers found that almost half of the households living in this area would financially struggle to live in Cambridge itself.
Study identifies Cambridge commuter areas which have highest share of households falling into housing affordability gap
What is the issue?
A major concern among decision makers in Cambridge is ensuring that those working in the city can afford accommodation that meets their needs within a reasonable distance from their place of work. Existing research has identified Cambridge as having one of the least affordable housing markets in the UK.
This has resulted in a housing affordability gap, where households earning £25,000-£45,000 per year struggle to access housing that is affordable and suitable for their needs.
If certain groups of workers are priced out of the market, it can create shortages in the supply labour and impede local growth. It is important therefore to create a sustainable environment whereby those working in the city can afford suitable accommodation that meets their needs within a reasonable distance from their place of work.
Cambridge Ahead commissioned RAND Europe to undertake research to estimate the incidence of this housing affordability gap across the Cambridge travel-to-work area (TTWA), by using Office of National Statistics (ONS) microdata to estimate the number of households across the TTWA that have an income below £45,000 per year: their estimate was 203,235 households.
The areas inside the Cambridge TTWA include East Cambridgeshire, Forest Heath, South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge, St Edmundsbury, Uttlesford, North Hertfordshire, East Hertfordshire and Harlow.
The study revealed:
- Almost half of the households (48.4%) living in the TTWA fall into this housing affordability gap experienced by those earning £45,000 or less per year, indicating that they would financially struggle to live in Cambridge.
- Within Cambridge, the incidence of this gap was higher in the northern and eastern sides of the city of Cambridge, such as King’s Hedges and Arbury, and parts of East Cambridgeshire, and relatively lower in areas within South Cambridgeshire.
- The affordability gap varies at a local level, with particularly high levels identified in Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Harlow.
This map illustrates the proportion of households falling into the housing affordability gap in the Cambridge TTWA.
Independent public policy think tank.