Housing in an East Lancashire town is among the most affordable in England and Wales, with houses costing almost five times the average annual salary.

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.

In Blackburn with Darwen, the average house price was £120,000 and the average annual salary £24,579 in 2020.

That equated to a ratio of 4.9 – in line with a year earlier.

Affordability ratios varied across the North West last year. In Trafford, house hunters spent 8.4 times annual earnings on a property on average, while in Copeland, the ratio was just 3.0.

The ONS said affordability across England and Wales had not changed significantly from the year before, but added that it has worsened overall since 1997.

Back then, the gap between ratios in the most and least affordable areas was just 9.9. By 2020, that had risen more than triple to 33.8.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said home ownership is out of reach for many, especially people on lower and insecure incomes.

“We haven’t built enough good quality or affordable homes for decades, meaning house prices have sky-rocketed,” she said.

“With no way of buying and a chronic shortage of social homes, millions have become trapped in expensive private rentals.”

Ms Neate said more “genuinely affordable” homes are needed nationally.

She added: “Unlike the Government’s other unaffordable home ownership schemes, like Help to Buy, social homes are actually pegged to local incomes meaning they're affordable by design.

“The Government must urgently invest in building social housing.”

House prices have soared in Blackburn with Darwen since 2002 – the earliest point at which local data is available.

The median cost of a property then was £43,000, with last year’s figure more than double that. Over the same period, the median annual salary increased by £6,542, a 36 per cent rise.