BBC money programme broadcasts live from Lancaster community centre

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A Lancaster community centre has been home to a live broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme.

All things housing was the programme’s theme broadcast from Barton Road Community Centre and many regular centre users took part.

One mother of two sons who attends the Play Café knew of many parents who had seen their mortgage rates double and she would really struggle financially, if she was in the same position.

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“We’ve been seriously discussing moving in with my parents who live in a fairly big house so we’ve been thinking of ways we could split the house into our own living areas and share the cost.”

Money Box presenter, Felicity Hannah, with Barton Road community co-ordinator, Denise Nardone. Photo by Janine BebbingtonMoney Box presenter, Felicity Hannah, with Barton Road community co-ordinator, Denise Nardone. Photo by Janine Bebbington
Money Box presenter, Felicity Hannah, with Barton Road community co-ordinator, Denise Nardone. Photo by Janine Bebbington

She knew of others in the same boat, either moving back in with their parents or buying a house with them.

Another mum described how the high cost of living had forced her to change her mortgage plan and was just paying off the interest at present.

A member of the Centre’s Crafternoon session wanted to downsize to a bungalow but couldn’t find one in Lancaster so was moving to Morecambe. Meanwhile, the only way her 27-year-old son had been able to get on the property ladder was because an inheritance had helped to pay a deposit.

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Chair of the charity which runs Barton Road, Janine Bebbington, was also interviewed during the programme: “Even if people are alright now, there’s still concern about what might happen when their mortgage deals run out and they have to renew. They’re frightened that they’re going to be wiped out.”

Among the local representatives on the panel were Dr Hilary Ingham, economics professor at Lancaster University and Kim Howarth, branch manager of Entwistle Green estate agents in the city.

Although admitting it had been a tough year, Kim said because of the universities and hospitals in Lancaster, there were always buyers looking for properties as well as people coming from the south to the area as it’s a cheaper place to live.

The programme said that whereas the national average house price is £291,000, in Lancaster it is just over £207,000.

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But although there was much new housing being built in the area, developments didn’t include many smaller properties or bungalows.

The local rental market was described as ‘crazy’ with some monthly rents increasing from £700 to £797.

The programme also conducted a vox pop in Lancaster where one woman described house prices as ‘extortionate.’

“I own my house and have been trying to find somewhere smaller but prices and mortgage rates are sky high.”

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Exclusive figures for Money Box revealed a third of people with a mortgages are overdrawn or have to borrow at the end of the month, meanwhile monthly rents average £1,304 a month.

The programme’s producers chose Barton Road Centre for their broadcast as they were tempted by its range of activities and the feel of the place.

Mike Smith, the BBC’s technical producer, said: "You made our lives very easy with your diligent attention to detail, welcoming us into the café and providing the internet access crucial to the programme.

“All in all, it was a lovely experience and showcased what a valuable job you are all doing in the community."

“It was very exciting to be part of a programme out live,” said Janine. “The centre was all a-buzz.”