Affordability in the Private Rental sector is fast becoming a mainstream issue; Digs hear more and more from people in the private rented sector who are struggling to find the money for their rent. In their Housing Strategy Update, Hackney council say;
“Private tenants, especially larger families, are likely to be hit hardest by the total household [housing] benefit caps”.
To be able to afford an standard one bedroom flat in Hackney, you need to be earning £39,000 a year.
Karen Allcock, Deputy Mayor of the council says that affordability is the single biggest issue for hackney’s private tenants.
The problem of high rents is made worse by below inflation wage increases and in many instances, pay freezes.
The Government decision to uprate housing benefits with the Consumer Price Index instead of the Retail Price Index has made a bad situation worse for struggling private tenants. The Consumer Price Index neglects to take into account rental inflation and is lower than CPI. Therefore, tenants are seeing their rents increase massively whilst their benefits are capped.
In a recent press release statistician Jil Matheson from the Office of National Statistics called for official private rental statistics and the development of a private rental price index.
“Housing market statistics must be more accessible with key trends easier to identify” she argues.
At Digs we whole heartedly agree with Jil that more accessible stats are needed that better serve private tenants. As a group of private tenants trying to get a handle on how market forces are working to leave people homeless and in a weak position to enforce their rights, decent stats have been very hard to come by. If housing campaigners like us are going to make a robust case for the policy changes we so desperately need, then these stats will be vital.
For a long time, we’ve been told that rent controls, landlord and letting agent regulation or any significant policy change will be so damaging to the fluctuations of the housing market that it can’t seriously considered.
We can’t begin to think about tackling housing policy properly without a solid foundation of decent statistics on a local and national level. A rental price index would help us translate the human impact of rent increases into hard data.
The current status quo insists on a light touch approach to housing market regulation, but this approach is having disasterous consequences for individuals and families up and down the country as tenants are unable to find decent, affordable housing.
The idea of the private rental prince index sounds very interesting and Digs are going to try and get in touch with Jil to find out more, so hopefully we’ll have more for you on this soon!