Parents are scared about London’s high housing costs – why aren’t politicians?
3 Feb 2016
London’s parents are afraid for their children’s futures.
When it comes to having one of the basic necessities for life, a home, the vast majority – 86% – of them, fear that their kids will have to move out of the capital in order to afford one.
Almost 90% of them think that children and young people growing up in London today will find it harder to cope with housing costs than they did, painting an even bleaker picture. Whether those costs prevent you from securing a home of your own, or means your rent consumes more and more of your income, things are getting desperate in the capital.
Think about that for a second. In this generation, we’ve made computers that once took over an entire desk fit inside your pocket. We’ve gone from photo albums to Facebook, and we’ve seen television go from five terrestrial channels to an online Pick ‘n’ Mix of programmes.
But as technology leaps forwards, our housing market leaps backwards. The simple truth is that especially in the capital, we don’t have enough homes that are affordable to rent or buy.
So why aren’t politicians showing serious plans to fix this, urgently?
Sure, we’ve heard vague pledges, even yet another piecemeal scheme from the government in Help to Buy London, and re-announcements of policies trailed many times before, but when are the candidates going to get serious and deliver the actual thing that will make things better?
Spoiler alert: we might need to invest in some more affordable homes.
The latest ONS House Price index revealed that house prices in the capital rose £36,000 in the last year. The latest Reeds Rains Buy to Let index showed that rents had gone up by 6.3%. This isn’t about hard work, it’s not about a financial gimmick, it’s about a broken market – broken because there are nowhere near enough homes that people on ordinary incomes can afford to rent or buy.
And the knock-on effects of that hit everyone. Across the capital, Londoners find themselves worrying how they’ll be able to cope. Some will find themselves stuck in unstable, expensive renting when they want to put down roots for their families, some will find themselves to relocate away from family, schools, and community so they can afford their rent, and some will find themselves in the worst plight of all – facing the nightmare that is homelessness.
Christina and her husband are people who should be able to get on in the capital, but who have been let down by its housing market. Both professionals, they moved to the capital to further their career, but found themselves forced out by the high cost of housing, struggling to get money together to get through the month, let alone pay their deposit.
They’re renting in Surrey now and commute into the capital, but as two professionals, at a time when they should be getting on in life, they’re stuck in expensive, unstable accommodation.
Christina says, “We have both said on various occasions that it is unlikely we will ever own our own home. When affording the rent alone is such a challenge, trying to save for a deposit whilst renting is almost impossible. It’s difficult to think of starting a family under these conditions.”
They’re an example of a young couple who can, just about, make their rent, outside of the capital. Many more can’t, and some of those are being hit hardest by London’s lack of affordable housing.
Too many Londoners are afraid they’ll never have a permanent place to call home. The next Mayor of London will have real powers on housing – they’ll control the budget for affordable homes, they can submit plans for developments, and make a real difference to millions of Londoners.
It’s time to see some specific, detailed plans that tell us how we go from what is a very real crisis, to a situation where a home of your own in London goes from pipe dream to possibility.
And if Mayoral candidates think they can get through this through sloganeering and spinning, rather than the concrete policies they need – maybe this will give them pause for thought:
Our research revealed that 83% of London’s parents think that affordable housing needs to be a top priority for the new Mayor.
I wouldn’t want to be the one that lets them down.
Parents in London have been afraid long enough. It’s time for candidates to feel that fear, too, and show us their plans to invest in the affordable homes to rent or buy that ordinary Londoners desperately need.