Saturday, 24 August 2019

Union warns of huge shortage of homes at affordable rents

Union warns of huge shortage of homes at affordable rents

THERE is a massive shortage of homes for rent at reasonable rates for workers in the lower pay grades, the GMB union has warned.

A new study by GMB Southern Region of official data shows that between 2011 and 2018 rental prices for two-bedroom flats in the South East increased by 25 per cent to an average of £875 per month, while over the same period, monthly earnings increased by just 8.1 per cent.

In the South East, Dartford is the council that has seen the biggest rise in rental prices.

Between 2011 and 2018, prices of a two-bedroom flat rose by 40 per cent, to an average price of £910 per month. Meanwhile, wages in the Dartford area rose by just 11.2 per cent.

Other South East councils with a significant gap between pay-rises and rent are:

• Gravesham, where rent has risen by 36 per cent and wages have decreased by 3.3 per cent.

• Wycombe, where rent has risen by 32.7 per cent since 2011, and wages have decreased by 3.6 per cent.

• Epsom and Ewell, where rent has risen by 31.6 per cent, yet wages have decreased by 4.8 per cent.

• Spelthorne, where rent for a two-bedroom flat has risen by 31.3 per cent to an average of £1,175 per month, while wages have risen by just 6.1 per cent.

GMB regional secretary Paul Maloney, said: “These official figures show increases in average rents for two-bedroom flats of 25 per cent or higher in 28 of the 67 South East councils in the seven years since 2011.

“The average increase for all the councils is 25 per cent. By comparison, average earnings in the same period rose by 8.1 per cent in the South East.

“Policy mistakes have made the housing position for lower paid workers worse. Council homes for rents at reasonable levels were aimed at housing the families of workers in the lower pay grades and did it successfully for generations.

“These were sold off — but crucially not replaced as a matter of Tory dogma. Housing benefit was introduced instead to help pay rents for those on lower pay and the costs to the taxpayer has ballooned to over £24 billion a year. It would have been far cheaper to build the council homes.

“The chickens are now coming home to roost on these policy mistakes. There is a massive shortage of homes for rent at reasonable rents for workers in the lower pay grades.

“There is now no alternative to higher pay to pay these higher rents — plus a step change upwards in building homes for rent at reasonable rents.

“Dogmatic opposition to allowing councils to build homes for rent is a luxury we can’t afford. So too are plans by property developers and councils to demolish over 100 council estates in London and replace them with luxury housing.

“GMB Southern Region have today passed a motion at our annual congress in Brighton in support of residents on housing estates facing demolition and redevelopment with private dwellings for sale in place of social housing.

“We are delighted at the news that UK housing association Clarion have cancelled their demolition proposals of the William Sutton Estate in Chelsea, avoiding the destruction of a community housed in affordable social homes.”

Mr Maloney added: “These high rents are here to stay. So too are younger workers living for longer in private sector rental accommodation.

“As a direct consequence, employers must be prepared to pay much higher wages to staff to enable them to afford these much higher rents.

“If employers don’t respond with higher pay they will face staff shortages as workers, especially younger people, are priced out of the housing market.

“It makes little sense for these workers to spend a full week at work only to pay most of their earnings in rents. They will vote with their feet.”


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