Housing in Cumberland council area became more affordable over the last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show full-time employees in Cumberland could expect to spend 4.2 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in 2023 – slightly down from 4.8 times the year before.

However, the Institute for Public Policy Research said the housing crisis is not only damaging lives but also holding the economy back and called for an increased investment in genuinely affordable homes.

Last year in England, a house cost 8.3 times the average wage, while the ratio stood at 6.1 in Wales – both slightly down from 8.5 and 6.4 respectively.

While this was the second consecutive fall since 2021, these are still higher than before the pandemic in 2019, when buyers spent 7.9 and 5.8 times their annual earnings.

Overall, housing affordability improved in three-quarters (75 per cent) of local authorities across England and Wales in 2023, worsened in just under a quarter (24 per cent) and remained the same in 1 per cent, the ONS said.

In England, the average home sold for £290,000 in the 12 months to September, while the average full-time wage was £35,100.

Houses in Cumberland were 3.2 per cent less expensive in 2023 than the year before, at an average price of £150,000. In the meantime, wages saw a 10.2 per cent year-to-year increase.

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A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We are committed to creating a fair housing system that works for everyone, including increasing first-time buyer numbers in all regions and boosting availability of new, genuinely affordable housing.

“Over 876,000 households have been helped to purchase a home since spring 2010 through Government backed schemes including Help to Buy and Right to Buy.

“Our long-term plan for housing will go even further to build the homes that local communities want and need, backed by £10 billion to boost supply and £11.5 billion for affordable homes.”