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Living Wage renters priced out of London

A flat sharing website has claimed that London is on the verge of a labour crisis as low-paid workers are unable to afford sky-high London room rents.

SpareRoom.co.uk found that for renters on the London Living Wage, not a single London postcode can be classed as ‘affordable’ – i.e. no more than 35% of their take-home pay.

The average weekly income on the London Living Wage is £293 after tax, while the average weekly room rent in London is more than half (56%) that at £164.31.

Flatsharing is the most affordable way to rent, yet the research reveals those earning the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour would have to budget more than half their take-home pay for rent. Affordable rent is typically classed as less than 35% of a person’s net earnings.

SpareRoom looked at every postcode district in the capital and found that not one is classed as affordable to those on the London Living Wage, let alone apprentices, who earn just £2.73 per hour, or £102.38 per week.

Even the cheapest postcodes to rent in London, Thamesmead (SE28), where the average room rent is £480 per month, and Edmonton (N9), where rent is £505 per month, are out of reach. On £9.15 per hour, renters would still have to budget 38% and 40% respectively of their net income for accommodation.

Renters whose postcodes start with a W face paying £810 per month for a roof over their heads. That’s 14% higher than the average London rent of £712 per month and costs Living Wage earners almost two-thirds (64%) of their income.

The numbers don’t make for pleasant reading for those on the capital’s Living Wage in SW or SE postcode districts either. They’ll have to budget £764 and £617 per month respectively for rent, which means putting aside 60% and 49% of their incomes for accommodation.

In East London, the average monthly room rent is £676, which means London Living Wage earners will have to spent 53% of their pay on rent.

In the N and NW postcode districts average rents account for more than half (50% and 57% respectively) their weekly incomes, with room rents costing £635 and £721 respectively. 

The situation is even worse for apprentices working in the capital. They simply can’t afford to rent on what they earn. Currently, a typical room in London’s cheapest postcode (SE28) is £480 per month, £38 more than an apprentice earns in that time.

Although the Government will raise their income by a fifth to £3.30 from October, and apprentices could take home £536.25 per month, they’d still only have £93 per month left to live on after paying rent in London’s cheapest postcode.

Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, said: “We’ve reached a point where the housing crisis is driving the lowest paid workers out of the capital. Even the cheapest way to rent, flatsharing, is officially unaffordable to them across the whole of London.

“The sad irony is those on the Living Wage are what keeps London ticking, and they need to be able to afford to live in the city that depends on them. Rising rents are forcing many to live hand to mouth or, increasingly, forcing them out. Apprentices are in an even worse position.

“London is quite rightly celebrated for its vibrancy, diversity and creativity. To protect that we must make it affordable to live in, otherwise it’ll turn into nothing more than a theme park for the rich.

“The Government needs to take action to make sure the capital doesn’t face a labour shortage that could paralyse the heart of the British economy. An overwhelming 97% of renters in shared accommodation told us the Government isn’t doing enough to make housing affordable – it looks like they were right.”

  • Emma  Mitchell

    Shocking figures for London here, that's why I made the decision to live by the sea in Southampton! This needs to be taken seriously by the Government and something needs to done before this ripples outwards into the wider areas.

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