Rent in South East up 25% since 2011 compared to 8.1% pay rises

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“There is a massive shortage of homes for rent at reasonable rents for workers in the lower pay grades”, says GMB Southern

A new study by GMB of official data shows that between 2011 and 2018 rent prices for 2 bedroom flats in the South East increased by 25% to an average of £875 per month, whilst over the same period, monthly earnings increased by just 8.1%.

In the South East, Dartford is the council that has seen the biggest rise in rent prices. Between 2011 and 2018 prices of a 2 bedroom flat rose by 40%, to an average price of £910 per month. Meanwhile, wages in Dartford rose by just 11.2%.

Other South East councils with a significant gap between pay-rises and rent are; Gravesham, where rent has risen by 36% and wages have decreased by 3.3%; Wycombe, where rent has risen by 32.7% since 2011, and wages have decreased by 3.6%; Epsom and Ewell, where rent has risen by 31.6%, yet wages have decreased by 4.8%; and Spelthorne, where rent for a two-bedroom flat has risen by 31.3% to an average of £1175 per month, whilst wages have risen by just 6.1%.

The figures for the 67 South East councils are set out in the table available for download on the right. This is from a new study by GMB Southern Region of official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for 67 councils in the South East. It shows the median rent of a 2-bedroom flat in 2018, the percentage change in rent-prices between 2011 and 2018, and the percentage change in monthly earnings between the 2011 and 2018.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said: “These official figures show increases in average rents for two bedroom flats of 25% 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%. By comparison average earnings in the same period rose by 8.1% 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 benefits was introduced instead to help pay rents for those on lower paid 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.

“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 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.”

Contact: Michelle Gordon 07866 369259 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762



1/ Private Rental Market Summary Statistics; Valuation Office Agency © Crown copyright 2018.

The data is collected by the Valuation Office captured during the course of Rent Officers’ statutory responsibilities to administer functions related to Housing Benefit (LHA and LRR schemes) and Universal Credit on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Landlords and letting agents provide VOA Rent Officers with data about the properties they let. This information is captured electronically in the VOA’s lettings information database. Checks are carried out at the point of entry to ensure that any Housing Benefit funded tenancies are excluded from this database.

Two Bedroom self-contained properties with two bedrooms including houses, bungalows, flats and maisonettes.

Housing Benefit claimants are not included in the samples used in for these data.

2018 data is for the 12 months to the end of March 2018


Congress Motion: 400. ESTATE DEMOLITION

Congress notes that the 2015 Congress carried a motion calling for GMB to support residents on estates facing demolition and redevelopment with private dwellings for sale in place of social housing.

Congress notes that there have been positive developments for the residents of the 100 plus estates facing demolition in London and the South of England.

The Leader of the Labour Party has pledged that residents in these estates facing demolition have to be offered binding ballots. The Mayor of London has now produced a policy that residents on most of the estates facing demolition in London must be offered binding ballots.

Congress welcome these positive developments. On the ballots for the estates in London Congress calls for any loopholes and exception to be closed and for residents and the Mayor of London to agree fair and transparent ground rules for the conduct of the ballots.

On the 34 estates facing demolition in London not covered by the Mayor's ballots Congress is calling for the Mayor of London and the entire labour movement to campaign for the individual boroughs to make arrangements to ballot residents on these estates or to explore other options like Community Land Trusts to take over the estates. It's not acceptable for Labour Councillors to ignore Labour Party policy by pressing on with the demolition of estates against the wishes of the residents which they are doing.

Congress reaffirms its commitment to the residents of these estates facing demolition. Congress is delighted to offer congratulations and solidarity to the residents of the Sutton Estate in Chelsea who have so far successfully resisted attempts to demolish their homes which would have seen the developers pocket a profit of £120m from this wrecking a community. These residents can rest assured that they can call on GMB in resisting this land grab by the property developers and speculators.

C28 PETS BRANCH, Southern Region