Help is at hand for struggling families

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SOCIAL housing chiefs in Wakefield have pledged to help struggling households make ends meet after a number of reports portrayed a bleak financial picture in the district.

Wakefield and District Housing chiefs say families in the city are earning less than they did four years ago.

A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report called ‘A minimum income standard for the UK in 2012’ suggests a couple with two children now need to earn £36,800 a year to have a socially acceptable standard of living.

A spokesman for Wakefield and District Housing said: “The report suggests that households need to have a higher income now than in 2008 to meet increasing household costs.

“However, according to the Office for National Statistics, the average income in Wakefield district is £22,273 a year, this was less than £23,076 in 2008.

“Despite the fall in average income, average private rents and social rents in the district have continued to increase. This suggests that households in the district could be struggling more financially.”

The spokesman added: “We want to make sure our tenants’ money goes as far as possible so we have introduced the WDH Discount Card, which provides discounts in local shops and national discounts online.

“We also have a dedicated debt team and website, ask:ted, which provides information to tenants.”

The English Housing Survey 2012 reveals owner occupiers across the UK – who are buying a house with a mortgage – made average weekly mortgage payments of £143. This compared to average UK weekly rent payments of £160 made by households renting privately and £79 paid by social housing renters.

Average private rents in Wakefield are £136 and average social rents in the district are said to be £65 a week. Wakefield and District Housing says 28 per cent of Wakefield residents are social renters, as opposed to 17 per cent in the UK.

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