Published: 25 May, 2012
• IN trying to pretend private rents are falling, housing minister Grant Shapps reveals just how out of touch his Conservative government is (Figures reveal real-term rents are falling, May 18).
Islington already has an acute housing shortage and private rents show no sign of falling. The latest RentWatch figures reveal that last year private rents increased by an average of 7.4 per cent. At the same time the average London wage for nurses, teachers and police officers went down.
I’m on the side of our community and talk to local people every day who are struggling to get by. As private rents continue to rise, more and more hard-working, low-income families are being affected.
It is a disgrace that a family needs to earn more than £72,000 to afford to rent an average two-bedroom Islington flat. The Conservative government needs to take action to tackle this growing problem – not hide its head and pretend it isn’t happening.
Cllr Catherine West
Labour leader, Islington Council
• LAST week, housing minister Grant Shapps and Catherine West got caught up in a spat about rising private sector rents. The background to this was the Tory’s urban clearances policy, whereby people may have to leave the borough if their housing benefit breaches the government rent limit. Obviously, if rents are going up, then more people may have to be re-housed.
According to Mr Shapps, rents aren’t increasing, because we’ve forgotten to strip out inflation. This is an attractive proposition. It means that things aren’t getting more expensive when prices are rising because inflation is going up faster. Unless, of course, you use the new measure of inflation, which doesn’t go up as much as the old one.
It has reassuring echoes of Cecil Parkinson’s dictum that “higher prices mean cheaper electricity for everyone”.
I must remember to run this Tory grasp of economics past Mervyn King when I next pop into the Bank of England.
But, of course, he’s the man who’s managed to print £325billion to bail out the banks.
Meanwhile, the poorest, the most vulnerable and the infirm have what little they had taken away because the Tory narrative is that they caused the recession.
Highbury New Park, N5