A study shows there is a significant gap between pay rises and rent in west Dorset.

While private rental costs have risen by 12 per cent in the area to an average of £700 for a two bedroom flat, wages have gone down by 4.1 per cent.

The figures come from a new study by the southern region of trade union GMB of data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for nine councils in the Dorset and Wiltshire area.

The study looks at the change in rent prices for a two bedroom flat from 2011 to 2018 and monthly earnings from 2011 to 2018.

West Dorset and Christchurch are the only areas across Dorset and Wiltshire where wages have gone down and rent prices have risen.

In neighbouring authority Weymouth and Portland, rent costs have increased by a much lower four per cent and average monthly earnings have gone up by 14.4 per cent.

Dorset Council's housing spokesman, Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, says more affordable housing options are needed in west Dorset.

He said: “We know that there’s not enough affordable housing options in Dorset, and we’re working with a range of registered providers, such as housing associations, to increase the supply of stocks available.

"These include rented social accommodation, key worker housing, and affordable properties to rent and buy through the open market. This will form a key part of the new Dorset Local Plan."

Councillor Carr-Jones added the authority ensures that, where possible, there is an affordable housing element to schemes for larger housing developments. He also said two new developments in south and west Dorset will be part of a Building Better Lives programme, which will provide new care facilities, extra care housing, key worker housing and affordable housing options.

The council is also encouraging communities to look at creative solutions such as community land trusts, Cllr Carr-Jones said, and is working with others to support entrepreneurship, self-employment and growth of small businesses and the roll out of superfast broadband.

He added: "We want to increase the number of high-skilled, well paid jobs across the area. This recognises the perceived limited career progression opportunities across much of rural Dorset, and the accessibility challenges that more rural communities face.”

Paul Maloney, GMB regional secretary, claimed there is 'a massive shortage' of homes at 'reasonable' rents for workers in the lower pay grades.

He said: "Policy mistakes have made the housing position for lower paid workers worse."

He added: "These high rents are here to stay. So too are younger workers living for longer in private sector rental accommodation. As a direct consequence, employers must be prepared to pay much higher wages to staff to enable them to afford these much higher rents," he added.