Birth rates new weapon in fight for London’s council estates

With over 100 estates facing demolition, survey shows the higher the housing costs the greater the decline in birth numbers.

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Birth rates are the latest weapon wielded in the fight for London’s council estates, with a new study said to show a correlation between the capital’s housing costs and the number of births since 2010.

GMB London Region says those living in boroughs with high housing costs are having fewer children than those where housing is more affordable.

“It should shock polite society that it is lower-paid residents on council estates who are facing long battles with Labour councillors and housing associations that want to demolish these estates and use the land to increase the supply of expensive homes – out of the reach of the lower paid workers who currently live on them,” said GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny.

“The bosses of these housing associations and the Labour councillors who are behind the rush to regard the land on the estates, which is housing the lower paid workers and their families, as a giant cash machine, should be thoroughly ashamed of what they are doing to these families.

“They wouldn’t dare suggest that a street full of the homes of the middle classes should be compulsory purchased for redevelopment, yet all over London they have no shame in doing this for the homes of the lower-paid families.

“Over 100 estates are facing demolition – this should stop until the residents consent to the sale of their homes or agree to give up their secure tenancies,” he said.

The survey of official data for the capital’s 32 boroughs compares the average house price from January 2018 by borough, and shows the number of births in 2010 and in 2018 and the change as a percentage.

In January 2018, the average house price in Kensington and Chelsea was £1,463,378.

The survey shows that in the eight years since 2010, the number of a births per year in the borough decreased by 26.29%, from 2,221 to 1,637.

Other areas where this is occurring include:

  • Richmond Upon Thames, which had an average house price of £639,200 in January 2018 and has seen a 22.79% decrease in the number of births since 2010
  • Lambeth, where the average house price was £514,176, has seen a decrease of 20.53% in the birth rate
  • Westminster, where the average house price was £1,116,111, has seen a decrease in birth rate of 17.95%
  • Camden, where the average house price was £859,593, saw birth rates decrease over eight years also by 17.95%

The survey shows boroughs with lower average house prices have shown a smaller decrease in birth rates, and in some cases an increase.

In Havering, the average housing price in 2018 was £365,934, while in the eight years from 2010, birth rates went up by 17.39% from 2,817 in 2010 to 3,307 in 2018.

Other areas that saw an increased birth rate include:

  • Bexley, where houses prices averaged £340,598 and the birth rate increased by 1.27%
  • Barking and Dagenham, which has the lowest average house price in January 2018 of £292,915, saw the birth rate decrease by just 0.78%

Figures for the 32 boroughs are set out in the table below, ranked by the largest decrease in birth rate between 2010 and 2018.

London January 2018 Average House Prices (£) 2010 births 2018 births 2010-2018 change
1 Kensington & Chelsea 1,463,378 2,221 1,637 -26.29%
2 Richmond upon Thames 639,200 2,992 2,310 -22.79%
3 Lambeth 514,176 4,929 3,917 -20.53%
4 Ealing 473,631 5,861 4,732 -19.26%
5 Southwark 492,039 5,131 4,181 -18.51%
6 Westminster 1,116,111 3,059 2,510 -17.95%
7 Camden 859,593 3,060 2,519 -17.95%
8 Hammersmith & Fulham 742,878 2,773 2,314 -16.55%
9 Haringey 549,660 4,456 3,756 -15.71%
10 Wandsworth 596,879 5,546 4,697 -15.31%
11 Merton 517,135 3,523 3,018 -14.33%
12 Kingston upon Thames 485,525 2,312 2,025 -12.41%
13 Hounslow 404,048 4,433 3,947 -10.96%
14 Brent 494,515 5,240 4,705 -10.21%
15 Lewisham 408,684 4,982 4,504 -9.59%
16 Greenwich 385,851 4,674 4,228 -9.54%
17 Newham 349,429 6,262 5,678 -9.33%
18 Enfield 395,284 5,122 4,672 -8.79%
19 Barnet 538,718 5,541 5,111 -7.76%
20 Sutton 377,963 2,675 2,472 -7.59%
21 Waltham Forest 441,468 4,823 4,468 -7.36%
22 Hackney 557,025 4,677 4,384 -6.26%
23 Islington 639,371 2,952 2,793 -5.39%
24 Tower Hamlets 465,625 4,565 4,381 -4.03%
25 Hillingdon 409,263 4,192 4,075 -2.79%
26 Harrow 474,005 3,503 3,582 2.26%
27 Croydon 374,441 5,536 5,425 -2.01%
28 Bromley 445,504 4,070 4,005 -1.60%
29 Barking & Dagenham 292,915 3,729 3,700 -0.78%
30 Bexley 340,598 2,993 3,030 1.27%
31 Redbridge 416,712 4,462 4,539 1.73%
32 Havering 365,934 2,817 3,307 17.39%

“Many lessons flow from these high housing costs and the toll on the numbers of babies born – one lesson should be on the policy of how to provide homes for lower-paid workers priced out by high housing costs,” said Kenny.

“Providing homes for rent at genuinely affordable rents is the only viable solution to provide homes for lower-paid workers and their families across the whole of London.

“Without the availability of homes provided by the council at genuinely affordable rents, these workers and their families are simply not able to even aspire to live in the areas where they work,” he said.

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