OXFORD has been named as the least affordable place to live in the UK – with houses so expensive many young people will never be able to buy a home.

A new report says the average cost of a house in Oxford is 13 times the average salary in the city.

And the situation is no better if you want a council home, with 5,000 families on the waiting list and hardly any properties becoming available.

Last night, Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said the situation was so dire that young professionals were being “forced out” of their city, prompting fears a generation could be lost, because of the city’s sky-high house prices.

The report, called Cities Outlook 2009, was commissioned by the Local Government Association, which represents councils across the UK. It says: l The average cost of a house in Oxford is £339,237 l The average salary is £25,896 l House prices are 13 times the average salary l 8,000 council homes are occupied – but another 5,000 families are waiting to be housed.

The report said Oxford was a more expensive place to live than London, Bournemouth, Cambridge and Brighton.

Burnley, in Lancashire, was rated as Britain’s most affordable town, with prospective buyers needing only 5.3 times the average salary to afford an average priced home.

Mr Price said the current situation in Oxford backed up the report’s findings. He added: “People have to live outside the city, unless they can afford extremely high rental and house prices.

“They’re effectively being forced out and this leads to a fragmented community, because young people and those with families have to move around the county.

“The jobs are available in Oxford, but the homes aren’t. This is also leading to an unsustainable transport system.”

Graham Stratford, the council’s head of community housing, said most of the 5,000 families on the register would never get a council property.

He said: “Oxford continues to face severe challenges in terms of the provision of affordable and appropriate housing for all sections of the community.

“Although house prices have fallen somewhat, Oxford has not seen the reductions of the scale experienced in other parts of the country, and sites for developments of any size remain scarce.

“The fact remains that demand continues to outstrip supply in the city by a factor of around 10.

“This means that, while their circumstances remain unchang-ed, the majority of households on the waiting list will never access social housing, as we focus our available housing on those in the greatest need.”

Mr Stratford said this was why the council supported so-called large-scale “urban extension” housing schemes, proposed for land south of Grenoble Road on the edge of the city and to the west of Barton.

Across Britain, an average house costs £224,064,while the average salary is £24,908.

Chris Dixie, of estate agents Breckon & Breckon, said: “While prices have fallen across the country during the recession and houses have become more accessible to first-time buyers, this hasn’t really happened in Oxford.”

The situation around the county is not much better.

Figures released by the National Housing Federation show south Oxfordshire is the fifth least affordable rural district in South-East England, with the average house costing £346,417, while the average salary is £29,031.

In the Vale of White Horse, homes cost an average of £257,798 – 8.6 times the average salary of £29,842. In west Oxfordshire, the average cost of a house is £257,692 – nine times the average salary of £26,462.

Cherwell has the lowest average house price in the county – £234,213 – while the average salary is £25,339.

Typically, mortgage lenders will lend a single buyer three to 3.5 times their salary, while joint buyers can expect a loan of four times the salary of the higher earner.

National Housing Federation spokesman Simon Nunn said: “With a dire shortage of affordable housing in rural communities, young families are finding it harder and harder to stay in the village where they grew up or have family and friends.”

Martin Hanss, 26, has owned Combibos Coffee, in Gloucester Green, Oxford, for three years.

But each day he has to drive into Oxford from his home in Abingdon because he cannot afford to buy a property in the city.

Mr Hanss has been trying to find a home in Oxford for a year, but said that property prices were “extortionate”.

He added: “Unless house prices fall dramatically or the banks start offering more mortgages, it’s just not going to happen.

“The only way young professionals like me can afford to work in Oxford is to live in one of the towns surrounding it.

“I’m self-employed and trying to run my own business, so I pay myself a low wage.

“This makes it virtually impossible to get my foot on the housing ladder.

“I want to live in the city, but it’s a funny old place.

“It seems there are lots of other people in my situation who just can’t afford to buy here.”

Are you struggling to buy a house in Oxford? We would like to hear your story. Call the Oxford Mail newsdesk on 01865 425500 or email news@oxfordmail.co.uk