The Socialist 24 October 2012
Defend the NHS
'Priced out of renting a home, let alone owning one'
A recent report by the National Housing Federation (NHF) shows that over the last three years there has been an 86% rise in housing benefit claims by working families - that's 417,830 more households now receiving the payments.
What's to blame? The NHF says that the cause is a 37% rise in private rents and house prices rising three times faster than wages since 2001. Pay freezes and a poverty minimum wage also contribute.
This is another sign of an ever-deepening housing crisis in Britain that gives young people little chance of ever owning a property or being able to afford to rent.
In my local area, Hertfordshire and Essex, private rents are rising faster than property prices, which could lead to some of the steepest increases nationwide in the next decade, says the NHF.
The NHF says that years of not building enough homes will push charges in the area up by nearly two thirds (64%) in just ten years, compared to a 59% rise nationwide. In Herts, monthly rents are predicted to rise from £902 to £1,478.
House prices in Herts could rise 52%, and the county's tenants have faced average private rents rising 4% while real incomes actually dropped by 2%.
In Essex monthly rents are set to rise from £773 to £1,267 in the next decade. Claire Astbury, a regional manager for the NHF said: "One in 16 East of England families is currently on the waiting list for social housing and it looks like the situation is going to get far worse.
"Successive governments have failed to tackle the under-supply of housing. Now time is running out... A whole generation are at risk of being priced out of renting a home, let alone buying one."
The main cause of these problems is a huge shortage of genuinely affordable housing. We need rent caps introduced and properly enforced to make sure rents are always affordable to working class people.
But the case for massive council house building is now overwhelming - if Labour councils won't oppose Cameron's diktats on public spending cuts, I'm sure the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition could show them how!
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