FEWER than three per cent of homes in Oxford are affordable to first-time buyers, a study has found.

Homeless charity Shelter surveyed 532 two-or-more bedroom houses in the city and found just two of them were within reach of an average couple with children.

A single person on £21,531 a year could chose between three houses, and even a couple without children on £43,000 had only 12 houses within their reach to buy.

Matt Neville, a research scientist at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, earns £40,000 a year, but cannot afford the deposit on a mortgage.

Mr Neville, who rents a house for £800 a month in Mark Road, Headington, said: “I am divorced, I have a daughter, and it is impossible to find a house.

“I have a good job but I pay child support, I really don’t know what I will do in the long term.

“My daughter, Hannah, comes to stay with me at weekends, and while I could put all my money into a mortgage, I wouldn’t be able to offer her the quality of life.”

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said the problem was “acute”. He said: “These Shelter findings certainly confirm what I hear talking to people in Oxford in relation to the impossibility of buying a house or flat and the increasing difficulty people are having to afford levels of rent.

“I feel especially sorry for young people who have grown up in Oxford.

“This is their home town, yet even with a good job with a reasonable starting salary they can’t afford to buy a home.”

Mr Smith said he was “absolutely crystal clear” what the cause of the problem was.

“We are not building enough houses in Oxfordshire to meet the need.

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“That is why we have 20,000 people driving through the Green Belt every day to come and work in Oxford.”

Oxfordshire’s district councils need to build 100,000 homes by 2031, according to the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

Mr Smith said that building in Oxford was difficult because of the tight constriction of the city’s Green Belt, where homes are not supposed to be built.

He said councils would have to ‘bite the bullet’ and look at where they could build on green fields.

Shelter also urged the Government to get more houses built across the country.

Chief executive Campbell Robb said: “When a family looking to buy their first home searches a whole town for a place to live and finds nothing they can afford, it’s clear we’re not just facing a housing shortage any more – it’s a full-blown drought.”