Report Launch: Housing for Women in Coventry
Date Posted: Friday 27th September 2019
New data from our report shows that in Coventry, property prices are 8.5 times women’s median salary, only 5.6 times men’s median salary.
New data reveals housing is unaffordable for women in every English region. In Coventry, the average price of a house is now seven times the average annual wage in the city.
A new report out today from the Women’s Budget Group with Coventry Women’s Partnership, Housing for Women in Coventry, reveals that:
- Average rents in Coventry take up 41% of the average salary for women in the city, and 25% of the average salary for men.
- A woman on an average income can barely afford a one bedroom flat in Coventry. Renting a one-bed flat absorbs over a third of women’s salaries (under a quarter of men’s).
- In the West Midlands women need 11 times their annual salary to be able to afford an averagely priced house, compared to 6.8 times for men
- In Coventry, property prices are 8.5 times the median women’s salary, whereas they are only 5.6 times men’s median salary.
The briefing is published as part of a joint project with Coventry Women’s Partnership and a follow up from the national Women’s Budget Group report A Home of Her Own – housing and women. That report showed that in England women need over 12 times their annual salaries to be able to buy a home compared to eight times for men and that average rents in England took up 43% of women’s average earnings.
Read the full report here.
Housing for Women in Coventry also reveals how changes to social security have led to a growing gap between housing benefit and actual rents.
- In Coventry, a family on housing benefit faces a shortfall of £173 for a 1-bedroom property; £200 for a 2-bedroom property and £210 for a 3-bedroom property.
- In England, reforms since 2012 have broken the link between rent and housing benefit levels, with 90% of private renters on housing benefit in 2015 facing shortfalls. 
- Women in England make up 60% of housing benefit claimants and so are being disproportionately affected by these cuts.
- Universal Credit is also having a negative impact. The five-week wait period on application is leaving many people in rent arrears: tenants on Universal Credit are six times more likely to fall behind on rent than other benefit claimants. 
- These benefit cuts and changes, accompanied by a severe shortage of social and affordable housing, are leading to increasing numbers of evictions and homelessness. 
Women and Homelessness
- Coventry has seen an exponential rise of homelessness in recent years. According to council staff, the council supported 350 families in the previous year, a jump from only 40 just four years ago.
- Refuge provision in Coventry for victims of violence and abuse is insufficient. Of the 350 families supported by the council in the previous year, 15% (about 45) were reported as homeless due to domestic abuse. The actual number may be higher as women tend to stay with friends or family before reporting themselves as homeless to statutory services.
- In England, the vast majority of people recorded sleeping rough are men (84%). However, women rough sleepers face specific challenges and their experience is very often linked to abuse, trauma and violence. They are less likely to access mainstream services and be visible on the streets.
- In England, the majority of statutory homeless people are women (67%) and single mothers are two-thirds (66%) of all statutory homeless families with children (they are just one quarter of all families with dependent children).
Author of the Housing for Women in Coventry briefing, Dr Sara Reis, said:
“Housing is one of the most urgent public policy issues in the UK with large number of people pushed into poverty by housing costs or unable to afford to rent or buy. Our report shows that this crisis of housing affordability is far worse for women than for men. Although women and men tend to buy or rent their homes as a couple, women are likely to find themselves unable to afford a home of their own if that relationship breaks down. Not surprisingly the majority of statutory homeless people are women. We are calling on central government to invest in social housing to spread the benefits of the housing safety net more widely and save billions of pounds in housing benefit.”
Christine McNaught, CEO, FWT – a centre for women (lead agency for Coventry Women’s Partnership, said:
“Through the Coventry Women’s Partnership project, we noted an emerging need of women needing support with housing in Coventry and a rise in the numbers of women who were at risk of homelessness. The report evolved from identifying this developing issue. The partners noted that these needs are more apparent when working to support women across the city in practice. When women are facing a housing crisis this is their priority need to move towards safety and security before support can be established to address other barrier and needs.”
Thaira Mhearban: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07838 222067/ Communications Officer
Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson: email@example.com / 07957 338582/ Director
About Coventry Women’s Partnership:
Coventry Women’s Partnership is a unique 3-year project, led by FWT – A Centre for women, which has been created with 5 organisations in Coventry to ensure women in the city feel supported, empowered and believed. They want to break down barriers in access to crucial services, and to make support easier. The partnership includes Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC), Coventry Law Centre and Kairos WWT.
Through referrals across the partnership, they work with women who need support in any of the following areas:
- Education, Training and routes to Employment
- Confidence Building
- Financial security including Debt Advice
- Health & Wellbeing support & easier access to services
- Rape & Sexual Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Pathways to exiting prostitution, homelessness & drug addiction
- Staying safe from Sexual Exploitation
- Language support
- Access to childcare
Women’s Budget Group is a research partner, we work with the Coventry Women’s Partnership to evaluate this visionary & innovative project for women in the city.