London housing is too expensive but Labour’s #ToryHousingCrisis nonsense doesn’t help anyone

London rents up 10 graphicThe great Labour lie machine rumbles on. For the last couple of weeks the London Labour party led by London Mayoral wannabe Sadiq Khan has been going #ToryHousingCrisis crazy.

The graphic they are tweeting is utter nonsense. It is based on a House of Commons Library paper reported here in the Evening Standard. I don’t suppose “journalist” Nicholas Cecil even bothered to read the original paper. I guess he just went with the Labour press release.

The silly apples and oranges comparison made in the paper compares average wages earned in very unusual places like Kensington and Chelsea with private rents in those boroughs. I couldn’t afford to rent in K&C when I came to London in 1984. I didn’t even think about it even though I had a relatively well paid graduate job. I ended up in Willsden Green. The comparison doesn’t include rents paid by people in those boroughs in social homes. It is utter nonsense.

For a bit of sanity go to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) who are working on a new Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP). According to ONS in the year to December 2013 private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain rose by 1.0%.

IPHRP regional rent increases

LHC_leaflet_frontSure the ONS reckons London rents actually paid by private tenants are rising at a faster rate than the rest of the country – 1.6%. Wherever Labour got its number from it either estate agents’ nonsense or something made up by Labour. The ONS says 1.6%.

The main purpose of this typically mendacious campaign is to drive you to a webpage to sign a petition and give them your details so that they can hassle you electronically in the run up to the London council elections in May.

Update: The Full Fact orgnanisation looked into this and found out where Labour’s number came from. It comes with this qualification:

… the composition of the sample [used to produce rental data] varies over time and therefore caution is advised when drawing comparisons between the statistics reported in the period reported in this release and those for different time periods due to those variations.

Full Fact conclude:

So most of the indicators suggest 10% is an exaggerated figure for London’s private rental market, and we’ll be asking Labour to use more comparable figures for their rental claims.

I am sure Labour will ignore Fullfact’s request.

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5 replies on “London housing is too expensive but Labour’s #ToryHousingCrisis nonsense doesn’t help anyone”

Phil, you are surely not denying that there is a housing crisis in London? The 2004 Housing Needs Survey and the 2008 Strategic Housing Market Assessment shows the 20,695 more new and additional market homes were delivered in London than was identified as required yet 160,450 fewer new and additional social-housing than were identified as required.

(The figures are derived from reports of the London Plan with analysis carried out by the London Tenants Federation).

The problem is not a Party Political one as the New Labour (another conservative party in essence) did little to solve the problem and over the last four years the Coalition Government has made the London housing crisis much worse.



Crisis is a loaded term as you well know. If there is a crisis it is very long running and will continue to run for decades most likely. My rent was crippling when I first came to London in 1984 and ended up in Willesden Green. I have already spent more than 25 years paying mortgages and I have another 10 years still to go. None of this is new.

The reason our property prices are so high is because we have security of tenure in this country and the state does not lightly appropriate private property. Added to low interest rates and low property taxes. This makes our property market very attractive abroad. It is hard to know how to change this – without affecting most locals very negatively.

The Coalition can’t magically undo a massive credit crunch which has knocked out private housebuilding. It has built more social homes – Labour’s record was simply awful. The worst ten year post-war for social housbuilding in the UK were 1998 to 2007. The Coalition has also kept interest stable as the markets believe that it will deliver its budgets in large part. Rents are going up but only very modestly. Sure landlords and estate agents are trying to bid them up as economic growth hardens but actual rents paid IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN LONDON only went up 1.6% last year (much lower than the rise in council rents in Ealing!).

In London we have massive investment in middle class home extensions which isn’t housing new people. We desperately need to undo Gordon Brown’s stamp duty changes to get people moving again.

I think we should make it easy and tax efficient for people to take lodgers. This would use some of that middle class space and provide stable homes for young people.

We also need to get social homes better utilised – the spare room subsidy looks different to people on the waiting list than it does to those who are under-occupying valuable public resources and paying rents 1/4 of the economic value of their homes.

Every time I knock on doors of social homes and get no answer even though there is clearly someone in makes me wonder who is living there. Similarly when you can’t get a leaflet in the letter box because it is stuffed full. I would say a substantial proportion of existing social social homes are abused; being sublet or being retained by families and friends of long gone legal tenants.

I am always suspicious of figures for demand for social housing. Most people would take disproportionately cheap housing if they could and there is not much cost to be on the list. Many social homes are very attractive and the rent is only 1/4 of the economic rent. We substantially reduced the list in Ealing a few years ago merely by writing to people and getting them to reconfirm their interest.

The 4 million new people sucked in under New Labour are obviously a huge factor. Labour is still being hugely dishonest about this.

Labour’s pledge to build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament is very unambitious. The average number of houses completed every year from 1979 to 2008 was … 200,000.

I am not hearing any solutions from you Eric. Let’s hear them.


Why not prevent anyone living abroad buying up homes as an investment here? We have homes standing empty because they are part of someone’s investment portfolio. Tax second homes much more heavily too.

When I was renting in London during 2008-2010 we found that each year landlords put the rent up by about £100 a month, so £1200 a year. Was my salary going up by that much annually? Nope.

Single people must have it hardest. I could afford to pay the rent on a one bedroom flat in Ealing because my partner was paying half. Without his help, the rent annually would have been my entire wages, and I worked full time in a above minimum wage job. Yes people can flat share, but often they find themselves living with noisy, messy flat mates. Fine when you’re a student but not so great when you have to get up for work everyday.



The government does have a dilemma: to rule for London or to rule for the country. Yes, we are probably over-heating in London, but not so in the rest of the country. I suspect that the government would rather have too hot London and nicely warm UK, than nicely warm London and too cold UK. That is the right choice in my view.

In my view it would be unwise to discriminate against foreigners in the housing market.

The current government has already given councils the freedom to levy 100% council tax on empty property and property being redeveloped. The government also gave councils the option to levy an additional 50% premium on long term empty properties. These changes only came into force on 1st April 2013 so will take time to have an effect.

I agree about single people – hence I think that we should make lodging more attractive. It would instantly add housing capacity without the need to build. It would efficiently make use of all of those London loft conversions.

I would be interested to know what you were renting where. Your story flies in the face of the stats:

The more capacity we can put in quickly the lower rents and house prices will be. The answers are around planning relaxation, land supply and a stable economic and legal framework. Just lashing out at foreigners might do more harm than good.


The council tax on empty property is a good development.

We were renting in the Ealing Broadway area, about ten minutes walk from the station. First in a 2 bed flat, which was very nice, but when the landlord wanted to put the rent up by a large amount at renewal time we decided to move.

We then moved to a one bed flat in Ealing Broadway. It was a decent size but huge Victorian bay windows meant it was incredibly cold and had a mould problem. We had two duvets on the bed and yet I used to lie in bed shivering, so cold I couldn’t get to sleep. Once I found some of my clothes had mould growing on them. Even with the heating on full, the temperature in the house didn’t get above about 13C, according to the thermostat. Another couple who had a baby decided to move out because they were worried for his health.

Yes Ealing Broadway is an expensive area and we could have chosen somewhere cheaper, but it’s tricky finding somewhere to live that suits two different commutes.

There are psychological reasons why lodging may be unpopular – if you’re a family, do you want a stranger living with you, and if you’re living with a family, it can be hard fitting in with that and feeling like you’re an intruder.


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