New figures reveal how private renters and homeowners in South Hams have been impacted by inflation and increased interest rates.

Analysis by the Office for National Statistics show an estimated 11% of private renters in South Hams were affected by rising rental costs.

Of those affected, the average monthly rent increased from £838 before 2023, to £904 last year.

The figures show the increased cost accounted for 29% of these renters' household disposable income.

Housing costs have increased since 2022 amid rising inflation and higher interest rates.

In the year to October 2022, inflation reached a 40-year-high. In response, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee gradually raised the Bank Rate from 0.1% to 5.25% between winter 2021 and summer 2023.

By the end of 2023, more than a third of those responsible for rent or mortgage payments in Great Britain were struggling to afford them, according to the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle survey.

The ONS analysis also shows 13% of homeowners in South Hams were remortgaging in 2023.

The average monthly repayments went up by £264, from £1,224 before last year to £1,488 in 2023.

Overall, the increased cost took up 49% of their household disposable income.

StepChange, a charity and debt advice service, said rising housing costs have been a "major driver" of the cost-of-living crisis.

Simon Trevethick, head of communication, said: "Repeated interest rate rises have pushed mortgage payments up for hundreds of thousands of people and rents have risen to record levels both inside and outside of major cities, as private renters especially feel the pinch.

"We want to see the Government supporting households facing increased costs. We have long called for an end to section 21 no fault evictions, as well as a tenancy support scheme ahead of evictions as a last resort."

He added the Mortgage Charter, brought in by the Government last year to help people with sudden increases in mortgage costs, is coming to an end in July.

"The Government should reassess removing help for mortgage borrowers to ensure there isn’t a cliff edge for those coming off their fixed term deals later in the year," he said.

The ONS assigned each area an "exposure score" relative to other local authorities based on the proportion of households affected by rising costs and how much the increased cost took from household disposable income.

Rent in South Hams was scored a three out of seven, meaning it was at medium exposure to rising costs.

Mortgages in the area also had medium exposure – scoring a four.

A Government spokesperson said: "Our landmark Renters Reform Bill is progressing through Parliament and will give tenants more security in their homes."

They added a new Private Rented Sector Landlord Ombudsman will be introduced so private tenants can escalate complaints if they are unhappy with the service they receive from their landlord.

"We recognise the cost-of-living pressures tenants are facing, which is why we are providing a £108 billion cost of living support package over 2022-2025 – worth an average £3,800 per household."