As economic blows continue to fall on the working classes in Britain in the form of job losses, wage cuts, slashed benefits, increased food price, extended working life, shrinking pensions, while health care and education services are being increasingly privatised and milked for profit by various private concerns, etc, etc, evidence is piling up to show that workers are also being forced to pay increased rents. This evidence is provided by the detailed reports from Shelter, the Office for National Statistics and Valuation Office Agency plus recent figures from FindaProperty.com Rental Index, property analysts Hometrack and LSL Buy to let Index who have all released new figures on private rents showing that these are now eating up a larger part of earnings then ever. Rents now account for a national average of on third of incomes while in parts of London and a few other rent hotspots they have reached as much as 56% of pay, leaving less and less to spend on little luxuries like decent food, fuel and clothing.
Of course, as with any national average there are places where the rents are much lower but these tend to be areas of great poverty and little employment prospects such as Lancaster, Derby, Liverpool, Gateshead and Birmingham where the average rents go from 15% of income in the first of those up to 26% in the last.
Of the 25 highest ratios in the country, 21 are London Boroughs and these extremely high rents in areas such as Camden, Brent and Westminster wipe out any London weighting for any worker unfortunate enough to live in these boroughs. The average ratio across the entire Greater London area is 41% – still a massive amount. Camden in particular presides over a devastating experience for poorer people due to the Government’s changes to Housing benefit laws that have capped the amount by which councils are permitted to subsidise the rents of the poor. As a result, the poor have to pay much themselves, with the result that many families are now literally being forced out of the borough. Camden can be seen as a microcosm of what is happening now across London as a whole.
For its part, Newham Council is now housing people miles out of London in Stoke Mandeville through an agreement with a housing association there. Poorer people in London for whom mortgages are so far out of their reach as to take on an almost mythical quality, are now, as a result of soaring rents, being forced to look more to sharing homes with other families to cut their costs in a return to the overcrowding of Victorian Britain with all the associated health issues that this will bring.
Various Government spokespersons and apologists point to the fact that they are ‘freeing up’ public land and offering ‘incentives’ to councils to build housing as proof that they are dealing with the problem, but this claim is just a smokescreen for giving large companies the go ahead to build on previously unobtainable land. Anything they build will be aimed, just like any production in the epoch of imperialism, at securing the greatest possible profit and completely disregarding any needs of those too poor to pay.
Those who are making so much money out of this situation wax lyrical about the prospects of its continued profitability it terms that could be described as almost drooling. Adrian Anderson of ‘Anderson Harris’ the ‘up-market’ mortgage brokers says; “In terms of London, demand for buy-to-let properties is only increasing. This is down to the expected increase in capital growth for prime properties over the next few years and also the attractive rental yields compared to other investments.” While David Newnes of LSL Property Services, which owns the UK’s largest lettings agent network, including national chains Reeds Rains and Your Move, expecting owners of rented properties to “enjoy a sustainable income stream for some time”, smugly points out that “Ultimately, only a concerted programme of house building will be sufficient to redress the imbalance between demand and supply.”
Hmm, ultimately, Mr Newnes, the problems of the poor, including high rents, will only be addressed properly by a socialist revolution where all the means of production and distribution are firmly in the hands of the working class and production will be based on the needs of the many rather than the super-profits of the few. That revolution will come about when the rich can no longer rule in the old way and the poor are no longer prepared to be ruled in the old way. The CPGB-ML is doing its best to create a Party fit to lead the working class into revolution and it only remains to thank Mr Newnes and the parasite class he represents for helping to create the conditions for their own demise.