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Union renews attack on 'rip off' private rental sector in south east England

A study published by the GMB union claims that London’s well-documented high private rents are now leading to other steep rises elsewhere in the south of England.

The average cost of a one bedroom property in Milton Keynes increased by 23.8 per cent between 2011 and 2016, while rents for a similar sized property in Reading rose by 22.5 per cent over the same period, and in Surrey by 17.2 per cent. 

For the south east as a whole average rents for one bedroom properties increased from £565 per month in 2011 to £650 in 2016 – up by £85 or 15 per cent. 

There are seven areas where in the same period the cost of a two bed property soared above 20 per cent. 

These are Brighton and Hove UA (up 22.2 per cent), Surrey (also up 22.2 per cent), West Berkshire (21.4 per cent), Milton Keynes (21.2 per cent) and Wokingham (up by 20.6 per cent). 

For the south east as a whole average rents for two bedroom properties increased from £700 per month in 2011 to £825 in 2016 – up by £125 or 17.9 per cent. 

There are also seven areas where in the same period the cost of a three bed property soared by over 20 per cent. 

The union claims that there are 11 boroughs in London where the average rents for one bedroom properties increased by 30 per cent or more in the last five years. 

What the GMB describes as “this huge jump in rents” compares with a Retail Price Index increase of 12.3 per cent between March 2011 and March 2016. 

“The crisis in London is spilling beyond the M25. Crossrail will be a mixed blessing when it opens next year as faster journey times will most likely lead to even higher rents.

These soaring rents coincide with the explosion in the size of the private rented sector and the growth in the billions of taxpayer’s money paid in housing benefits to private landlords” says Paul Maloney, GMB southern regional secretary.

“Nationally the figure has ballooned from £21.4 billion when Osborne came to power to £24.3 billion four years later. Much of this public money is ending up untaxed in bank accounts in offshore tax havens. The Public Accounts Committee should conduct an urgent investigation into this scandal” urges Maloney.

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