Saturday, 25 March 2017

Islington Council leader demands evidence to show rents are falling

Shapps challenged to prove rent claim

The leader of Islington Council has challenged housing minister Grant Shapps over his latest claim this week that private rents are falling.

At a meeting with officials from the Communities and Local Government department on Tuesday, Catherine West asked to be provided with statistics to prove Mr Shapps’ assertion that real-term (including inflation) rents were coming down.

Ms West cited a recent report from homelessness charity Shelter that showed private rented accommodation in Labour-run Islington had risen by between 9 per cent and 11 per cent in 2011. She was responding to comments made by Mr Shapps on Radio 4’s Today programme during a debate with Sir Robin Wales over Newham Council’s plans to house people on its housing waiting list in Stoke-on-Trent because of spiralling rents in London.

‘The evidence about this is just not there,’ said Ms West. Mr Shapps has previously used data from the English housing survey to show that rents had fallen in real terms from 2009/10 to 2010/11.

But the Shelter report, published last month, showed that private rents in London rose by 7 per cent last year - nearly twice the rate of inflation for wages in the capital.

A CLG spokesperson cited research from LSL property services that showed monthly average rent falls in London of 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent in February and March respectively. However, these came after an 8 per cent increase in January.

An Inside Housing investigation in February disproved claims made by prime minister David Cameron to parliament that rent levels were falling as a result of the government’s welfare reforms. Using freedom of information requests, it was shown that just 36 out of 204 English councils had seen any reductions at all.

Last week, a report from the National Landlords Association also found three quarters of private landlords had not been approached by councils over reducing rents.

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