The average nurse, teacher, paramedic, police officer or firefighter can only afford to own a home in 8% of towns across Britain, a report has found.
Halifax looked at housing affordability for the five professions across 515 post towns, including 31 London boroughs.
It found only 40, or 8%, of these areas were affordable – down from 24% in 2014.
In some areas, a home typically costs more than 18 times a key worker’s average annual wage.
Halifax, which looked at average earnings for nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics, said the widening gap in affordability is due to house prices outpacing earnings growth for public-sector workers.
Average house prices have increased by 32% between 2014 and 2019 – more than four times average key worker annual earnings growth of 7%.
Areas where house prices were typically less than four times average annual earnings were deemed affordable by Halifax, while those above this ratio were seen as unaffordable.
Only 3% of towns are affordable for nurses, the research found.
Some 9% of towns are affordable for teachers, as are 15% for paramedics, 18% for police officers and 5% for firefighters.
Andrew Mason, head of mortgages at Halifax, said: “Over the past five years, UK wages have not increased in line with average house prices across the UK and this has had a knock-on impact on affordability for key workers.
“Those working in nursing have seen the number of affordable towns plummet to only 3%, compared to 12% in 2014.”
The most affordable towns in Britain for key workers are in the North West of England, the report found, with Nelson near Burnley in Lancashire having an average house price-to-earnings ratio for key workers of 2.66, followed by Accrington (2.96) and Bootle (3.16).
The least affordable areas for key workers are in London and the South East, where house prices are significantly higher than the national average.
The least affordable areas include Rickmansworth, Westminster and Richmond-upon-Thames.
Here are the most affordable towns in Britain for key workers, according to Halifax, with the average house price to annual earnings ratio:
1. Nelson, 2.66
2. Accrington, 2.96
3. Bootle, 3.16
Here are the least affordable areas in Britain for key workers, according to Halifax, with the average house price to annual earnings ratio:
=1. Rickmansworth, 18.16
=1. Westminster, 18.16
3. Richmond-upon-Thames, 18.07
Here is the average house-price-to-earnings ratio for key workers by nation and region across Britain, according to Halifax:
– North East, 4.69
– Wales, 4.85
– Scotland, 5.26
– North West, 5.46
– Yorkshire and the Humber, 5.50
– East Midlands, 5.85
– West Midlands, 6.26
– East Anglia, 7.42
– South West, 7.61
– South East, 10.11
– London, 12.10