Published: 06:00, 09 July 2019
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.
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.
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.
"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
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."
More by this authorRebecca Tuffin