AFFORDABLE housing will be on the agenda at the General Election after new figures revealed the number of people privately renting homes in Dudley has doubled in the last ten years.

In Sandwell the number has nearly tripled and during the same period home ownership has fallen by 10 per cent in Sandwell and 15 per cent in Dudley.

Labour's parliamentary candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis Stephanie Peacock believes the trend will mean buying a house will be out of reach for local people hoping to get on the property ladder.

She said: “Average houses prices are now as much as 4.9 times median earnings in Halesowen and Rowley Regis.

"This is contrasted with a 13.8 per cent drop in the real value of average earnings of all employees in employment over the last few years.

"Renters in the West Midlands are now paying on average £564 a year more in rent than they did in 2010."

She added: “While the flexibility of renting may suit some, others have been forced into the private rented sector as the only available option as home ownership becomes increasing out of reach of many people."

As elsewhere in the country Sandwell and Dudley boroughs also have a shortage of council housing.

Miss Peacock added: "The numbers on council housing waiting lists is over 9000 in Sandwell and nearly 6500 in Dudley."

The Labour candidate is hoping her party's promises concerning new homes will strike a chord with the electorate.

She said: “Labour has committed to increase the supply of new homes in England to above 200,000 a year by the end of the next Parliament.

"It is crucial that social housing is a key part of this strategy as currently nearly two million lower paid households across the country are housed are in private rented dwellings at an annual cost to taxpayers of nearly £10 billion per year given to private landlords in housing subsidies.”