MOVING to a cheaper area could save teachers thousands of pounds a year. The latest national cost of living survey shows that it is around 30 per cent more expensive to live in London than in the North of England.
Taking living and housing costs into account, the cheapest areas in the UK are Northern Ireland, the North of England (Cumbria and Northumberland), the East Midlands and YorkshireHumberside. And teachers are perfectly placed to take advantage of the regional disparities.
Those in London and the South-east have suffered most from spiralling house prices, and although these are now beginning to stabilise, a recent report by the Labour research department showed that only nine of London's 32 boroughs had house prices which could be afforded by people on average earnings, like teachers.
Anyone prepared to relocate will find that while pound;3,000 might secure a run-down two-bedroomed terraced house in one of Hull's inner-city areas at auction, for pound;35,000 to pound;49,000 you can buy a two-bedroomed starter home in a leafy village to the west of the city.
A four-bedroomed detached house in a similar area costs around pound;110,000. For pound;140,000 - about half the price of a two-bedroomed flat in Islington, north London - you could buy a period detached, double-fronted house with stables, workshops and a barn in Willerby, a pleasant village close to the city centre.
Hull City Council hopes to lure well-qualified professionals using the profits from the flotation of its telecommunications company, Kingston Communications, to improve facilities and schools. Plans include a 30,000-seater sports stadium, an art gallery and a waterside campus for the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. Much of the old docks area has already been regenerated as waterfront museums, marinas, shopping centres and up-market housing.
The council is also making strenuous efforts to improve its educational record - Hull ame bottom of the GCSE league last year, with only 23.4 per cent of pupils gaining five A-C grades, compared with the national average of 47.9. It also had the second highest national truancy rate.
The council has now introduced a virtual university on its intranet to help pupils with homework, and an achievers' programme for the top 10 per cent of Year 8 pupils. This offers conditional university places to bright 13-year-olds.
Cumbria is one of the cheapest areas to live in the UK, but parts of West Cumbria have levels of social deprivation among the very worst in Europe. Yet both Cumbria's GCSE and A-level results are slightly above average.
But you may no longer have to move. Under the Government's pound;500 million Starter Home Initiative, "key workers" like teachers and nurses will receive help to buy homes in expensive areas.
* NQT and student helpline, Friday, p31.
REQUIRED ANNUAL INCOME IN 14 UK AREAS
This shows the gross income required to maintain the standard of living of a family of four living in a three-bedroomed semi bought on a 68 per cent mortgage. It includes water rates, council tax, 78 meals out, 1100cc car,telephone, coal and electricity for heating.
East Anglia 21,511
East Midlands 20,584
Greater London 28,938
London Commuters 27,316
Northern Ireland 20,421
North West 21,650
South East 24,124
SE and Greater London 26,490
South West 22,934
West Midlands 21,346
Figures: Cost of Living Report, Regional Comparisons 2000 by Reward, tel 01785 813566
Semi-detached houses - the 10 cheapest counties, second quarter, 2000
Average price Pounds
South Humberside 44,800
South Yorkshire 50,300
County Armagh 52,950
North Humberside 53,700
Mid Glamorgan 54,800
County Durham 55,750
Source: Halifax Building Society