HOUSING reached its least affordable levels on record in England last year, according to an official report.
An average home cost 7.72 times a worker's average annual earnings in England in 2016, up from a multiple of 7.52 in 2015, Office for National Statistics figures show.
In 1997, when the ONS series started, the average home in England cost 3.54 times wages. The ratio for England last year is the highest since the start of the series.
In Wales, a home cost around 5.79 times earnings in 2016. This is still lower than a peak of 6.59 times earnings reached in Wales in 2007, although in 1997 an average buyer in Wales could have expected their home to cost three times their earnings.
The ONS said that while the average price paid for a home in England and Wales increased by 259% between 1997 and 2016, average annual earnings have increased by 68%.
The most affordable local authority in 2016 was Copeland, where a home cost around 2.8 times earnings. The least affordable area was Kensington and Chelsea, where house prices cost around 38.5 times annual earnings.
In 1997, Merthyr Tydfil was the most affordable local authority in England and Wales, with a house-price-to-earnings ratio of 1.9. But by 2016 Merthyr Tydfil was no longer the the most affordable local authority, with an affordability ratio of 3.8.
Kensington and Chelsea has consistently remained the least affordable local authority across the country between 1997 and 2016, the ONS said. In 1997, a home there cost around 11.8 times earnings.
Other parts of London have also seen housing affordability deteriorate significantly.
In 1999, an employee in Camden could expect to pay 7.7 times their annual earnings for a property. Fast forward to 2016, and they could expect to spend on average 19.6 times their annual earnings on a home.
The Government recently launched the housing white paper, which aims to help both home buyers and renters.