OXFORD is in a “dire situation” and “desperately” needs more affordable houses, officials have warned, after none were built last year.

Despite the city’s pressing need for new homes, figures from Oxford City Council reveal that not a single affordable home was built in 2013/14.

Affordable homes are those let by the council that cost no more than 80 per cent of the local market rent.

In 2012/13, nearly 100 affordable homes were completed, compared to more than 200 in 2008/09.

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Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “This is a dire situation, where lower and middle income earners are increasingly priced out of the city. Everyone needs to wake up to this reality.”

At the moment the Government has capped the amount of money councils can borrow against their housing stock.

But Mr Smith said: “I understand that more affordable homes will be built this year but we all know that this just scratches the surface of housing need in Oxford.”

Conservative Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood criticised Labour councillors for not following the Vale of White Horse District Council’s example.

She said: “The city council has a duty to do more to provide desperately needed affordable housing.

“Getting on the housing ladder in Central Oxfordshire should not be an impossible dream for young first time buyers and those on average earnings, and local politicians of all parties should put aside party politics and work together to make it the norm.”

It comes as new figures reveal more than 1,000 affordable homes need to be built every year to meet demand and as of last month there were 873 empty homes in the city.

Of these, 251 have been empty for longer than six months.

A group of squatters occupied an Oxford University building in Arthur Street, West Oxford, last week to hold a series of events to highlight the city’s housing crisis.

But they were evicted by the university on Wednesday and moved their events to Cowley Road Methodist Church.

These ran between Thursday and yesterday.

City council leader Bob Price said Oxford is facing a problem of declining land supply as well as shortages of cash, and admitted that the lack of affordable homes was disappointing.

City councillor Scott Seamons, executive board member for housing, admitted that the numbers showing a steady decrease in the number of affordable homes “didn’t look pleasant” but said there are a lot of homes in the pipeline.

He said: “We are nowhere near delivering enough affordable homes but we don’t have the ability to expand beyond our boundaries.”

As of October 7 there were 3,442 households on the city’s housing waiting list and in recent years Oxford has consistently topped the charts for the country’s least affordable city.

Affordable homes are those let by the council that cost no more than 80 per cent of the local market rent. In 2013, the average weekly rent for a two-bed house in Oxford was £227.54, meaning the affordable housing equivalent would cost £182 a week.

Laura Wilson is the deputy manager at the Agnes Smith Advice Centre in Blackbird Leys, where people can get free debt advice.

She said that a lack of permanent housing and security has a long-term impact: “It affects people’s health and can impact on children’s education, it causes stress and pressure on relationships.”

Tessa Jack, 21, has been on the city council’s housing waiting list for about two years and lives in a hostel in Windmill Road, Headington.

She said: “My tenancy ends in eight months and I don’t know where I am going after that. The private rented sector is too expensive.”

Lesley Dewhurst, chief executive of Oxford Homeless Pathways, said: It’s getting worse and worse. If we don’t get more affordable housing then more people will sleep rough or leave the area completely.”

At the moment the council is building 113 homes across Oxford including 48 flats and houses in Minchery Farm and 49 flats for the elderly at Bradlands in Old Marston.

But Mr Price has long said that the best option for large-scale house building in Oxford is south of Grenoble Road where up to 4,000 homes can be built but this land is in the Green Belt and lies within South Oxfordshire district where the council opposes such a scheme.

A spokesman for the Homes and Communities Agency said: “We recognise how important [the need for] housing now is in Oxfordshire and we are working closely with partners on a number of initiatives which will help to increase the supply of new and affordable housing in the county.”

'I just want somewhere permanent we can set up home’

MUM-of-five Sarah Livingstone has been waiting for a permanent council house for a decade, after becoming the council’s poster-girl for the Home Choice scheme in 2004.

The scheme sees the council help tenants on its waiting list pay deposits on private rented accommodation and housing benefit to landlords.

But Mrs Livingstone, 31, who has lived in Waynflete Road, Barton, for two years, said the scheme has made them move nine times and their current landlord wants them to leave this month. Married to Danny, a delivery driver, 30, and mum to Josh, nine, Ella, seven, Tyler, five, and twins Ruby and Megan, three, she added: “I don’t think people realise how much it affects our family.

“Josh turned 10 on Friday and all he said he wanted for his birthday was for us not to have to move again.

“It’s endless and relentless.

I just want somewhere permanent where we can set up home.

“I don’t care where, it can be a two-bed house, we’ll make it work.”

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