The skyline over Oxford’s Florence Park will look rather different today (Thursday 30 April) as a giant life-sized inflatable house rises up to ensure housing is high on the agenda with just a week to go until the general election.
The house will be raised in the park as part of the Homes for Britain campaign, to show that an affordable home shouldn’t be out of reach.
Last year in Oxfordshire less than three quarters of the homes needed were built, leaving the region with a shortfall of over 500 homes. Years of not building enough homes to meet demand has led to increasingly unaffordable housing costs. Oxford continues to be one of the most expensive places to live, with average house prices just over £380,000 – almost 15 times the average salary.
Howard Toplis, GreenSquare’s Chief Executive, said: ““As a leading provider of affordable homes across Oxfordshire, we're proud to be doing our part to help address the increasing demand for housing in the area. But we can’t do it alone. Although we've really started to see the positive impact of the campaign over the past few weeks – with housing forming key parts of the leading parties' manifestos and vast media coverage about the housing crisis – now we really need to keep the pressure on.
“We’re calling on all the political parties to move away from short-term measures, and instead commit to long-term strategies that will improve housing supply and end the housing crisis within a generation.”
Homes for Britain is an unprecedented national campaign bringing together over 300 diverse organisations, ranging from developers and estate agents to social landlords and charities, all calling for an end to the housing crisis within a generation. The campaign has advertising appearing throughout Oxford ahead of the election, highlighting how the housing crisis affects every day life and calls for people to join the campaign to ‘be a voice not a victim’.
Oxford-based Niki Smith, 42 works in finance and has two children aged 8 and 9.
She said: “As a single parent living in a rented property in Oxford it is a struggle every month to find the huge chunk of money to pay my rent. Although I’ve got a good job working in finance, I still receive some housing benefit otherwise there’s no way I’d able to afford to keep a roof over my family’s heads.
“It feels like I’m in a real Catch 22 situation as I can’t really afford to live here as it’s so expensive, but this is where my job is. I have a support network here and it’s where my children go to school. If I were to move away to somewhere more affordable, I’d then have to factor in additional childcare and travel costs so I wouldn’t end up any better off.
“It’s not just the rent I have to account for as well; it’s additional bills like council tax and the costs of raising two young children. I just about manage to scrape by every month by being savvy with spending and raising a bit of extra cash by doing car boots sales, but I just wish it wasn’t so tough to afford a decent, secure home.”