Published: Friday, 28 July 2023

"Oxford is one of the most unaffordable places for housing in the UK, so this is a question we get asked quite often. It’s a fair question.

"Where possible, we provide affordable homes at social rent. This is the rent paid by nearly all council and some housing association tenants. It’s worked out to a government formula that uses the size and value of a home and average regional incomes.

"In Oxford, this typically means around 40% of the rent a private landlord would charge for the same home.

"It doesn’t help that the government’s definition of affordable rent is up to 80% of private rent. In a city where private renting is so expensive, that’s still too much for a lot of people.

"But that’s not the definition we use. Our tenancy strategy bases affordable (or intermediate) rent on local housing allowance levels. This means affordable rent in Oxford is 60-65% of the rent a private tenant would pay. 

"But what if you want to buy a home? House prices in Oxford are more than 12 times household earnings. This puts home ownership out of reach for a lot of people unless they have an account with the Bank of Mum and Dad.

"The government’s First Homes scheme provides homes for sale to eligible first-time buyers with a 30% discount. However, an initial price cap of £250,000 means very few First Homes can be provided in Oxford anyway.

"Shared ownership is a more flexible option. This is a great way of getting on the housing ladder, allowing you to buy a share of your home – between 10% and 75% initially – while paying rent on the rest.

"Our housing company OX Place provides shared ownership homes. Shared ownership makes home ownership a reality for people like key workers, first-time buyers and under-40s who would otherwise be priced out of Oxford."

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing

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