The polls show London turning red (and grey). Is a "renterquake" responsible?by Jack Beckett / May 1, 2018 / Leave a comment
Londoners, eh, walking around like they rent the place. Indeed, as of 2017, private renters are now the most common form of housing tenure in the capital. This group of nearly 900,000 are young, have migrated, are concerned with housing availability—and what’s more, they’re starting to vote about it. In fact, capturing the imagination of this voting bloc will have serious implications for this week’s local elections
Much has been made of the ‘youthquake’ that toppled the seemingly inevitable prospect of a large Conservative majority at the last general election. But post-election analysis by the British Election Study has since quashed this theory and replaced it with a more specific 25-40-year-old-quake.
Less attention has been given to the ‘renterquake’. Yet private renters turned out in larger number, and swung heavily toward Labour, as compared to the 2015 election.
The renterquake visualised
Here it is, explained in two graphs, courtesy of Ipsos MORI:
Now the heroes amongst you will be falling off your chairs in your eagerness to type “correlation doesn’t equal causation.” But, Matt Singh, of Number Cruncher Analytics, has twice written of the ‘renterquake’ phenomenon, reaffirming his position that this is no spurious correlation.
These trends are nationally-based, but they will become nowhere more pertinent than in London when renters go to the polls this week. Housing is now cited as the joint third biggest issue for voters nationally at 22 per cent—its highest position since 1974, sitting on a par with the economy and only behind Brexit and the NHS. In London, the figure is 36 per cent.
This trend is of no surprise: in the last two decades, the number of jobs based in London has grown by 40 per cent, the number of people by 25 per cent, but the number of homes by only 15 per cent.
Housing was the top issue facing Londoners at the 2016 Mayoral election—in 2012, it was 4th—and nearly three times as many Londoners say they would look favourably on candidates who promise more housebuilding.
Who will benefit?
We know why private renters find housing a bigger issue than their homeowning counterparts—that’s as engrained as…