Renters' anger hints at the scale of the housing crisis
Shares in Foxtons and other leading estate agents are tumbling, following the government’s announcement that today’s Autumn Statement will include a ban on letting fees.
As it emerged that the value of Foxtons shares had fallen by 13 per cent in an hour, Londoners on Twitter responded gleefully.
Poor old Foxtons down 13% on government plans to scrap letting agent fees pic.twitter.com/H6eVU3hgDd
— Alasdair Pal (@AlasdairPal) November 23, 2016
Foxtons’ share prices plummet 13% in an hour. pic.twitter.com/EdeceA3dCZ
— Nick Pettigrew (@Nick_Pettigrew) November 23, 2016
— Emma Haslett (@emmahaslett) November 23, 2016
— Dom Whitehurst (@DomW) November 23, 2016
While we’re not in the habit of celebrating failing businesses or jobs potentially lost, the reaction does reflect how angry renters are with letting agents, and how vulnerable renters across a range of income brackets feel.
However, Philip Hammond’s targeting of Foxtons et al must not distract from the broader housing crisis, and the Conservative government’s responsibility for it.
A ban on letting fees is welcome, and will save many renters hundreds of pounds, but it is a bauble rather than a substantive policy change. It doesn’t affect the fundamentals of the crisis: under-supply of affordable housing and social housing, under-regulation of the private rental sector, and rapidly climbing rents.
While Hammond will also announce a £1.4bn injection to support the building of 40,000 homes, but even this is a drop in the ocean.
As the shadow housing secretary John Healey said this morning, ‘six years of Conservative housing policy have led to the lowest level of new affordable housebuilding in 24 years’ and ‘today’s announcement is too little and too late.’
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