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Families in Kent cannot afford private rents, says Shelter

ByRebecca Tuffin

Low-income families in Kent cannot afford private rents without turning to housing benefit, according to homelessness and housing charity, Shelter.

The organisation worked out the average rent price for a two-bedroom home in the county's 13 districts.

These were then compared to a combined family salary at the 25th percentile - £25,411 per year - with one adult working full-time and another part-time.

Low-earning families in Kent cannot afford private rent
Low-earning families in Kent cannot afford private rent

For people on this wage in Sevenoaks, they have to fork out 51.9% on rent after tax and National Insurance.

This leaves them with a little more than £1,000 a month for childcare, food and utility bills, not to mention everything else.

Tonbridge and Malling comes in second, with 46% being paid to a private landlord.

Chris Thomas from Porchlight, a Canterbury-based homelessness and housing charity, said: "We're hearing from more and more people who are struggling to make ends meet.

Social rents were found to be 100% affordable for working families on low wages.
Social rents were found to be 100% affordable for working families on low wages.

"Lots are having to choose between feeding their family, heating their home and paying rent.

"Many are in work but are still unable to afford the basic cost of living."

The annual median rent for a two-bedroom property in each district is:

Sevenoaks - £13,200

Tonbridge and Malling - £11,700

Dartford - £11,400

Tunbridge Wells - £11,400

Canterbury - £10,200

Gravesham - £10,200

Maidstone - £10,200

Medway - £9,588

Ashford - £9,120

Swale - £9,000

Thanet - £8,100

Folkestone and Hythe - £7,821

Dover - £7,800

People in the lower quartile wage in Sevenoaks have to fork out 51.9% of their pay cheque on rent
People in the lower quartile wage in Sevenoaks have to fork out 51.9% of their pay cheque on rent

And the percentage of a £25,411 salary which has to be paid on rent is:

Sevenoaks - 51.9%

Tonbridge and Malling - 46%

Dartford - 44.9%

Tunbridge Wells - 44.9%

Canterbury - 40.1%

Gravesham - 40.1%

Maidstone - 40.1%

Medway - 37.7%

Ashford - 35.9%

Swale - 35.4%

Thanet - 31.9%

Folkestone and Hythe - 30.8%

Dover - 30.7%

Shelter has used a pre-set affordable level of rent as below 30% of a household’s pay.

In contrast to private renting, social rents were found to be 100% affordable for working families on low wages across the county.

Shelter argues the solution is more money being invested in social housing.

"Lots are having to choose between feeding their family, heating their home and paying rent" - Chris Thomas, Porchlight

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “Families in lower-paid jobs are having their bank balances bled dry by the extortionate cost of private rent.

“The steep decline in social housing across England has left growing numbers of families caught in a debilitating ‘rent trap’.

"It’s disgraceful that despite working every hour they can, many parents are forced to rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their children’s heads."

Mr Thomas added: "The constant stress of living in poverty can create additional problems – such as poor mental health – which can drive people closer to homelessness.

"We're doing everything we can to help but access to affordable housing is one of our biggest challenges.

"Renting from a private landlord is often the only option but here in Kent, much of the accommodation is too expensive for the people we support.

"We desperately need more social housing that offers people on low incomes with security, decent living conditions and affordable rents."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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