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Rent rises outstrip wage growth in the Royal Borough

Rent costs have risen while earnings of workers in the Royal Borough have declined this decade.

Figures put together by housing charity Shelter show the average rent for two-bedroom homes shot up from 2011 by 15 per cent in 2017.

Average wages in the Royal Borough – calculated by modelling a two-person home with one occupant working full time and one part-time – fell by 0.8 per cent in that time.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), the leader of the council’s opposition, said the problem was not specific to the Royal Borough.

“I think it is a much bigger question,” she said.

“Nationally, we have moved away from social housing.

“We have gone along the lines of, ‘people can privately rent’.

“In Windsor and Maidenhead, that private rent is going up and we hear pretty much every day people being evicted because the rent has gone up.

“I don’t think it (the Royal Borough) is doing enough. We have not done enough locally or nationally.”

She said she wanted to see the borough take advantage of its ‘assets’, like council land, and use them to help create homes affordable by people on low incomes.

She acknowledged the council would need to ensure it got a suitable return on land it owns – making building social housing more difficult because developers will earn less from cheaper homes.

But she said the financial pressures have been exacerbated by cuts to council funding from the Government and year-on-year council tax cuts enacted by the Conservative administration earlier in the decade.

“I think councils should take back their responsibilities for council housing,” she added.

Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), the cabinet member for housing at the Royal Borough, said the council had a ‘clear commitment’ to deliver affordable and social housing in sites included in the Maidenhead regeneration project, and said 38 per cent of homes in the York Road development will be classed as affordable.

The borough defines affordable rent as 70 – 80 per cent of market rent.

He said: “We’re always looking at ways to support people in private rented accommodation and our upcoming housing strategy has seen input from a range of partners such as local charities and housing associations and includes looking at ways of working with private landlords to secure lower rents for residents. It’s due to be published in the autumn following consultation.”

Cllr McWilliams added the council is using money made from regeneration to fund ‘large-scale infrastructure’.

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