19 Aug 2013

Living standards crisis is a housing crisis

The daytrippers take in the sun on the south Devon coast. It’s the height of the summer holidays in Teignmouth. No one’s talking economics, but here in the district of Teignbridge, the squeeze is everywhere.

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A typical middle-earning worker takes home just £311 per week, a hundred pounds less than the national average, so the district is in the bottom 10 in the country for weekly wage packets. And last year they fell a further 4% (according to an ASHE survey).

But in the west country it goes further than that. Low wages are combined with high living costs. There has been a political epiphany on living standards over the past couple of years (now encompassing the whole political elite). Its physical embodiment is in Devon and Cornwall. Water bills are nauseously high here, as a result of the high cost of coastal clean-up being shunted on to users. But here, more than anywhere you see the truth behind the political games on living standards. The living standards agenda is about the high cost of housing. But politicians don’t want to talk about that, because they perceive existing homeowners to be high on the crack of rising house prices.

Find out more about living standards in Britain: #c4newspopup – we’re coming to you