Why things need to change
Citizens Advice Oxford data on the enquiries it receives shows that problems with private rented housing disproportionately affect non-UK nationals. Portuguese speakers account for 27 per cent of all private rented housing enquiries, Spanish and Italian speakers account for 15 per cent each and nearly 12 per cent are experienced by Polish speakers.
Oxford has the costliest area in the UK to buy a house according to the latest Lloyds Bank’s Affordable Cities Review published last month. Oxford City Council last year reported the cost of buying a house was as high as 17.3 times average earnings.
It is therefore unsurprising that just over half of Oxford households live in rented property. Some 30 per cent of residents (48,000 people) live in private rented accommodation. This is the largest percentage of residents living in private rented accommodation in the UK and is significantly higher than the average for UK cities of 19 per cent. Rent takes up 58 per cent of average earnings, which were £31,200 per annum in 2018. For people on low income this percentage is significantly more. This means there is strong demand for even very poor quality accommodation.
What we are doing
We have produced an awareness campaign targeted at key affected areas of the city. This is primarily focused on helping tenants for whom English is a second language. The majority of people seeking the organisation’s help with their housing problems are Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Polish speakers. The campaign is being supported by the TDS Charitable Foundation and Councillor Shiasta Aziz who marked the launch at Templars Square shopping centre.