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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Average house costs record 8.8 times earnings

The average property in England and Wales cost a record 8.8 times local earnings last year, new official figures show.

And it topped 10 or 20 times earnings in some popular towns and cities outside the capital, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

The official data appears to contradict a recent report suggesting the affordability crisis has been overblown with the average property more affordable than in 1997.

In the City of Westminster, the average property sold for £875,000, which is 24 times the local annual salary of £36,519.

House price multiples are also above 20 in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, and Camden.

In booming Cambridge, the prices ratio reached a new peak of 13.7 times local incomes, beating Oxford for the first time.

In Cornwall, Herefordshire and north Norfolk, average house prices exceeded 10 times local pay in 2014.

But the gap between the country's most and least affordable properties has grown, with the average home in Blaenau, Gwent, costing £75,000, just four times the average local salary of £18,709.

In Newcastle, Sheffield and Wolverhampton, the price/income ratio has fallen since hitting a peak in 2007.

The average house price in England and Wales was 6.4 times local salaries in 2002, before climbing to hit 8.65 in 2007

It fell back after the financial crisis but hit a new peak of 8.78 in 2014.

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