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Trades union wades into debate over London private rents

The GMB trades union has waded in to the debate over whether rents in the private rental sector in London are too high in relation to wages.

A new study by the union claims that between 2011 and 2017 rent prices for two bedroom flats in London increased by 25.9 per cent to an average of £1,500 per month, whilst over the same period, monthly earnings increased by 9.1 per cent.

It says that in England as a whole, between 2011 and 2017, rent has increased by 18.2 per cent, with the average two-bedroom flat costing £650 per month. It states that meanwhile, wages increased by just 9.8 per cent.


In London, Greenwich is the borough that has seen the biggest rise in rent says the GMB. Between 2011 and 2017 the rent on a two bedroom flat increased by 50 per cent to an average rent of £1,350 per month. Meanwhile, wages in the borough increased by 7.2 per cent.

The GMB research uses official data from the Office of National Statistics for 33 boroughs in London and is based on the median rent of a two bedroom flat in 2017, and the percentage change in rents between 2011 and 2017, and the percentage change in monthly earnings between the 2011 and 2017. 

"These official figures show increases in average rents for two bedroom flats of 30 per cent or higher in 16 of the 33 London boroughs in the six years since 2011. The average increase for all the boroughs is 25.9 per cent. By comparison average earnings in the same period rose by 9.1 per cent in London” says Warren Kenny, GMB regional secretary.

"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” he says. 

"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.”

He claims that 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” claims Kenny.

Poll: Should rents be used by unions to argue for higher wages?


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    Perhaps the GMB would like to oppose policies that will drive rent up such as S24, the ban on tenant fees and longer term tenancies but I very much doubt it.


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