Homes in Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East are at their least affordable since at least 2003, new figures show.

In Cheshire East, homes became less affordable as wages decreased by two per cent in 2021, while house prices rose by 11 per cent.

Meanwhile, in Cheshire West and Chester, wages increased by five per cent in 2021, but house prices rose by 10 per cent.

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.

The median – the middle number in a series – is used instead of the mean average to ensure the figures are not skewed by extreme highs or lows.

The analysis shows that the average house price in Cheshire East is now £266,000, while the average annual salary sits at £32,103 – meaning house hunters need 8.3 times their wage to buy to a home.

This is the highest ratio recorded since the ONS began analysing the issue in 2003.

The situation is slightly better in Cheshire West and Chester.

The average house price in the area now £230,000, while the average annual salary sits at £32,921 – meaning house hunters need seven times their wage to buy to a home.

But it’s still the highest ratio recorded.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, says the blame for worsening affordability lies with a ‘huge decline’ in affordable social homes, paired with less housebuilding.

"House prices have been pushed higher by policies that have given some people greater purchasing power, like Help to Buy or the recent stamp duty cut.

“These policies coupled with a lack of supply means homeownership is now out of reach for most people on modest incomes.

“Many families are really struggling now that other bills are skyrocketing too - forced to choose between heating, eating or paying their rent."

A recent report from the House of Commons suggests that Covid-19 may be responsible for a slowdown in the building of new affordable homes over 2020 and 2021.

It notes the building of new homes for social rent has dropped off significantly in recent years — accounting for just 11 per cent of new homes built last year, down from 62 per cent in 2014-15.

A spokesperson for the department of levelling up, housing and communities said building affordable homes remains ‘central’ to the Government's levelling up agenda.