Estimating the incidence of a housing affordability gap across the Cambridge travel-to-work area

by Andreas Culora, Christian Van Stolk

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Research Question

  1. What is the number and proportion of households living in the Cambridge travel-to-work (TTWA) with an income that is below £45,000 per year (and thus fall into the housing affordability gap)?

A major concern among decision makers in Cambridge is ensuring that those working in the city can afford accommodation that meets their needs within a reasonable distance from their place of work. Existing research has identified that Cambridge is one of the least affordable housing markets in the UK, with a house price-income ratio of 13.0, compared to the national average of 7.8. Furthermore, a housing affordability gap has been identified in the city, where households earning £25,000-£45,000 struggle to access housing that is both affordable and suitable for their needs. Moreover, a survey of approximately 2,000 employees working in Cambridge hospitals found that 40% of respondents reported that they struggled to meet their housing costs. The sole aim of this study is to estimate the incidence of this housing affordability gap among households living in the Cambridge travel-to-work area (TTWA), by using open access ONS microdata to estimate the number and proportion of households across the TTWA that have an income that is less than £45,000 per year. This study has found that 48.4% of households living in the TTWA fall into this housing affordability gap, with local hotspots identified in Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Harlow. Within Cambridgeshire, the proportion of households falling into this gap was higher in the northern and eastern sides of the city of Cambridge and parts of East Cambridgeshire, and generally lower across South Cambridgeshire.

Key Findings

Almost half of the households living in the Cambridge travel-to-work area are estimated to fall into the housing affordability gap

The research estimates that almost half (48.4%) of the households living in the Cambridge travel-to-work area fall into the housing affordability gap experienced by those earning £45,000 or less per year.

The number and proportion of households that fall into the housing affordability gap varies within the travel-to-work area

The number and proportion of households that fall into the affordability gap varies at a local level, with particularly high levels in Forest Heath, Harlow and St Edmundsbury.

The incidence of the housing affordability gap also varies within the city of Cambridge and its surrounding areas

The incidence of the housing affordability gap is higher in neighbourhoods on the northern and eastern sides of the city of Cambridge and many local areas in East Cambridgeshire, while the incidence of the affordability gap is relatively lower in neighbourhoods on the fringes of the city of Cambridge across South Cambridgeshire.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Aim of the study

  • Chapter Three

    Methodological approach

  • Chapter Four

    Results

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusion

  • Annex A

    Household estimates by MSOA

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by Cambridge Ahead and conducted by RAND Europe.

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