THE gap between average earnings and house prices hit a record high last year, figures reveal.

In the Braintree district the average house price was £286,000 while the average annual salary was £33,116 in 2020.

That means prospective buyers would need 8.6 times their annual salary to buy a home.

It also meant the gulf between earnings and house prices in Braintree was the largest since records began in 2002, when the house-price-to-income ratio was 5.5.

House prices have soared in Braintree since 2002.

The average cost of a property then was £119,000, with last year's figure more than double that.

Over the same period, the median annual salary increased by £11,526, a 53 per cent rise.

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A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said more than 243,000 homes were delivered last year – the highest number in over 30 years.

They added: "We’re investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over the next five years which will include providing up to 180,000 new homes, with half for affordable and social rent.

“This – as well as First Homes, Shared Ownership, the Help to Buy scheme, and the new mortgage guarantee scheme – will help many more people get the keys to their own home.”

Each year, the Office for National Statistics calculates housing affordability by comparing the median house price in a local authority area to the median full-time annual income of people who live there.

The higher the ratio is, the less affordable homes are to buy.