Housing prices in the UK and London fall, homelessness rises, more children than ever sleep in B&Bs

Housing prices in the UK and London fall, homelessness rises, more children than ever sleep in B&Bs

The Nationwide Building Society has reported today, March 1st 2018, that prices fell by 0.3% last month, crushing expectations of a riseCommentators explain: “Brexit and a weaker economic outlook reinforced a slowdown in the property market”.

In London people are now trying extremely hard not to sell at these lower prices: ‘Pre-tax profits at London-focused estate agent Foxtons dropped more than 65 per cent last year, it said today [March 1st], as sales in the capital fell to “near historic lows“.’

More than 103,000 children were homeless in the UK at Christmas in 2015, almost all in England. That then rose to 124,000 in 2016. By Christmas 2017 the figure was approaching 130,000 children, all waking up in temporary B&B accommodation on Christmas day.

When a child looks down from the windows of a block of flats in the UK what they see is the most economical divided country in Europe and these divisions are made most obviously visible, and increasingly most strongly felt, through our ever more segregated housing. That child will see people living and sleeping on the street. That child will have friends who have been housed by the council because they are homeless. That child may well grow up having to sofa surf if they live in London. That child will hear the rich talk in a different language about ‘asking prices’ and ‘school fees’.

1) We have known since 2005 that most children growing up in the tower blocks of London and Birmingham – the majority of children ‘living in the sky’ in Britain – are black.

2) The number of people officially recorded as sleeping on the streets of England rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,134 in 2016, and then 4751 in 2017 but charities estimate the true figure to be more than double this.

3) Homeless families housed by local authorities in temporary accommodation each year, are rising from 50,000 in 2010 to 78,000 in 2017.

4) In London alone there are an estimated 225,000 “hidden homeless” people aged 16-25 – arranging their own temporary accommodation with friends or family.

5) The upper middle class are most concerned that no one is paying the asking price in Fulham any more.

6) The majority of schools and hospitals in Kensington and Chelsea are private – the rich live parallel lives.

A competent government would enact: Emergency powers to house the roofless, rent regulation for private landlords, and introduce capital gains tax to stop speculation (for when house prices eventually rise again).

These are extracts from a 14 minute talk given on February 23rd in London as part of a wider discussion about Grenfell, Housing and the Welfare State: