Calls to combat London exodus and increase housing stock

A new survey says that nearly four out of 10 Londoners have thought about leaving the city due to rising house prices.

A poll of 1,000 people by You Gov and property group Grosvenor Britain and Ireland for business pressure group London First also revealed that a quarter of those who have thought about quitting London are planning to move this year.

‘New homes urgently needed’

London First have already called for the government to increase spending on building new homes, both inside the capital and around the country, to meet demand. Their recent report ‘Hard Choices: How much should the nation spend on building new homes?’ claimed that a further £20 billion needed to be found from both public coffers and private investment to meet the government’s target of 300,000 new builds.

That’s an increase of 40% on the current rate of building, and the report claimed that spending needed to rise by 65% to meet demand in London.

Speaking to an audience that included Housing Minister James Brokenshire at the Building London summit, London First CEP Jasmine Whitehead warned of the dangers ahead if more new homes – and the land to build them on – were not started soon.

“If this ​ ‘London flight’ continues it will endanger the one thing that above all else makes the city the world’s capital – its mix of people.

“The more housing becomes out of reach for certain parts of society the less vital London becomes and the less successful we’ll be.

“Young people – and increasingly middle-aged and older people too – are tearing their hair out over the cost of housing in the capital and, as a result, too many are seriously considering a future away from the city. We need more money from the Government; the Mayor to bring forward more land for development; and for the industry to find smarter ways of building to speed up housing delivery.”

Regional cities reap the benefits

But could the regions outside of London benefit from this exodus? In early 2018, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) research revealed that young professionals in particular were migrating out of the capital at a faster rate than they were arriving in some cases, with cities such as Manchester and Birmingham benefiting from the London “brain drain”.

The signs are that this has been in progress for some time, with property markets in cities like Manchester and Birmingham ticking up. Research by Hamptons International and Countrywide in early 2018 showed a 16% increase of people selling in London and buying elsewhere in the country.

According to Your Move, average prices in the London suburb of Redbridge rose to £480k. But in Warrington, handily placed for Manchester and Liverpool, even a rise of 6% last year brought the average there up to £234k.

And Birmingham is the most popular destination for people keen to leave the capital, with the ONS showing that, in 2017, it attracted 7,620 people from London. And the West Midlands as a whole saw a considerable net gain – around 3,500 – of people making the same move.

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