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Lack of affordable housing could cause a recruitment crisis

The Observer newspaper recently reported that the UK is in the throes of a housing crisis.

The Observer newspaper recently reported that the UK is in the throes of a housing crisis.

A staggering 71% of aspiring property owners doubt they can buy a home without financial help from their family, with the Bank of Mum and Dad financing a quarter of all mortgages. One in three prospective buyers believe purchasing a home will remain out of reach for good.

This is not news to the many young nurses who aspire to own a home. The basic arithmetic is not pretty. NHS data shows average annual basic pay for full-time qualified nurses was £30,934 in December 2015. With a possible mortgage multiplier of four times salary, this indicates a mortgage of about £120,000.

By comparison, the average house price in England and Wales is about £190,000, and as high as £500,000 in London. It simply does not compute.

Attractive housing in large swathes of the UK is beyond the means of a nurse buying on their own, unless they have a big deposit or family financial support. An RCN survey reports that two fifths of London nurses reckon the cost of housing will force them to leave the capital in the next five years.

Last century, many hospitals had on-site accommodation for students and nurses. Most was sold off in the 1990s. The rationale was that nurses could rent or buy under market conditions. Since then, UK house prices have sky-rocketed; nurses’ pay has not. Average pay has barely changed in the past three years because of the public sector pay freeze.

This has big implications for the current and future supply of nurses. Today’s nurses may give greater consideration to living and working in relatively low housing-cost areas. Tomorrow’s potential nurse will weigh up the earning potential of different careers, and will conclude that owning a home will be easier to achieve in better-paid employment.

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