The subject of housing in Ealing was raised on the floor of the House of Commons by the borough's newest MP Rupa Huq last week.
Rupa not only led a 90 minute debate called "housing supply in London" attended by MPs including three London mayoral hopefuls: Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Sadiq Khan but also asked a Parliamentary question to the education minister on teacher retention that linked the issue to housing costs in Ealing and Acton stopping new trainees staying in Ealing and causing a brain drain away from the borough.
Among topics that came up were the first-time buyer market and the resulting so-called generation rent; the numbers of young people living in shared houses, or even with their parents, right up to their 30s; the ability of councils to build houses with proceeds from sales; the disastrous new right-to-buy policy; the axing of Labour’s decent homes standards; the changing definition of affordability; and the dwindling number of key workers in the capital.
Huq declared "In popular mythology, everyone in London is living on caviar, quaffing champagne and Pimm’s, and the streets are paved with gold. According to Land Registry figures, London continued to see the highest price rises in the country. In March, prices rose by 11.3% to an average of more than £462,000. The rise was 5.3% nationally, with the average property price a much more modest £178,000.
For my constituents, the average property price is now £535,319—17 times their average annual take-home pay of £31,000, according to the National Housing Federation… it’s the constituency with the third highest number of private renters with the highest private rents in a marginal constituency. Shelter’s pre-election report found that 0% of housing in my constituency is affordable for a typical young couple”
Then last Monday Rupa attended Parliamentary questions with the Education Department including Nicky Morgan. She asked about teacher retention declaring “Various recent polls have shown that up to 68% of teachers have considered leaving the profession altogether in the next 12 months. In my constituency, the prohibitive cost of housing contributes to that figure. Heads say that that prevents teachers staying beyond their initial teacher training. What steps will the Department take to head off the coming teacher crisis in London?”
Rupa said “Twice I had the minister opposite me eyeball to eyeball and raised specific questions:
Can the Minister say what is being done to change the definition of affordability from the current Mayor of London’s reckoning of it as a whopping 80% of market rate?
Will he agree to include in his next housing Bill a power to let councils ban overseas and off-plan sales, to ensure that first-time buyers in London at least have a chance?
The average age of an unaided first-time buyer in London is now 37, what does he predict it will be by the end of his party’s term in office?
But got no answers on either this or education. It’s very disappointing that this is what passes for the democratic process in this country when government ministers can systematically refuse to answer”.
The passage most widely picked up on social media got reported in the Evening Standard:
Renting is no longer just a transitory stage for people in their 20s; it is the new normal, and it is becoming routine for people further up the age scale, including many professionals in my constituency. A new staffer started with me the other day. People in their 30s on good money are sometimes sharing 12 to a house, with a shared sitting room and kitchen. At that stage of life, “Who Stole My Cheese?” should not be a way of life.”