True cost of rent for Preston's workers
Rise in rents criticised by housing groups
Middle-income workers in Preston are spending a fifth of their monthly salary on rent, figures suggest.
Housing charity Shelter said private rents have risen to "grossly unaffordable" levels across the country, with the coronavirus pandemic only fuelling the issue.
The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom property in Preston was £450 in 2019-20, according to the latest data from the Valuation Office Agency.
Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal the median salary of a full-time worker was £26,918 in 2020 – meaning a tenant living alone would spend 20% of their pre-tax income on rental costs every month.
The median is a measure used to exclude extreme values which could skew the average.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said hundreds of thousands of renters nationally are now "struggling to make ends meet" amid the economic fallout of the pandemic.
She said: "Private renting is already grossly unaffordable. Rents have outpaced wages for years and now the pandemic is turbo-charging the problem.
"Many have had to turn to benefits for the first time, only to find the support available doesn’t come close to covering most rents."
She added that "decades of failure" to build new social homes means millions are trapped in the private renting cycle, with rising demand causing a spike in costs.
"Private renters spend more of their income on housing costs than anyone else," she said.
Pressure group Generation Rent said rising rental prices mean the prospect of homeownership is getting further out of reach for many people.
Dan Wilson Craw, the group's deputy director, said: "As rents have risen faster than wages, life has become even more of a struggle for anyone who doesn’t already own a home.
"Renters have had to work longer hours, commute further and share with other adults for longer just to keep a roof over our heads.
"If the Government wants everyone to thrive it must do all it can to drive down rents, including investment in council homes."
Earlier this month, the Government announced it would extend its ban on enforced evictions to protect vulnerable renters who are struggling amid the pandemic.
It means bailiffs cannot carry out repossessions until early March at the earliest, unless in extreme circumstances.