Worthing rents turn food and heat into a ‘luxury’

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WORTHING families are going without food and heating in order to pay their rent, a new survey has revealed.

According to Shelter, the homeless person’s charity which conducted the survey, the town is among 55 per cent of local authorities in England in which average private rents are unaffordable for ordinary working families.

The Shelter Rent Watch said typical private landlords rents were often more than a third of a family’s average take-home pay – the widely-accepted measure of affordability.

Sue Buckler, who has rented in Worthing for 19 years, is a deputy manager at a factory, taking home around £1,200 a month but paying £775 per month to rent a three-bedroomed home.

She is the only breadwinner in her family, as her husband stays at home to look after their three-year-old son, and said even with housing benefit of £35 per week she struggles to pay the rent.

The 43-year-old, of Dagmar Street, said: “Rent is completely disproportionate to wages.

“I want to get off housing benefit, but there’s no way – and as far as I’m aware, most people I know are the same.

“I think there should be a cap on rents.

“Originally, renting was for people who couldn’t afford to buy, it was supposed to be the cheaper option.

“We have no disposable income, and we struggle just to pay the rent and bills.”

Sue Stevens, PR and fund-raising manager for Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, said: “Sadly, there is a shortage of homes in this area in both social and private sector housing, something which Worthing Borough Council acknowledge on its website.

“This is not a problem unique to Worthing but across the country, therefore private landlords, to some extent, can name their price as we are in a supply-and-demand market.

“In this current economic climate, with the added news of the rise in inflation and the proposed Housing Benefit reforms to be introduced in January, 2012, the situation for low-income families is just going to get harder.”

Worthing Borough Council was unable to respond to the Herald’s request for comment.