While there has been some reports of rent costs going down in London, the fact is that housing in the UK is still very expensive. It is so costly that “working class” people who make under £23,000 spend up to 50% of their total household income for their rent according to the not-for-profit Shelter. That is just the national average, and some areas are even worse than that.
These are the individuals that keep are economy going. They are the factory workers, security guards, cooks, waiters and waitresses, care staff, and others. The people who go to work 5 days a week to make products for our nation or provide services just can’t afford the cost of housing.
Not only is 50% of their income going to rent a home in the private sector, but they also need to pay more money for their energy bills, food, transportation, and all of those other basic living expenses. If someone is paying half of their income for housing there is really no way they can make ends meet. So instead all too many are taking on debt, including payday loans or credit card debt.
While we are sure they do not want to turn to alternative sources of funds for paying their bills, it is the only way that working class people can make it through the month. Then they hope that the future will either bring them an increase in income or provide some other form of relief.
Working class people in different parts of the UK may even have it worse than the national average. The amount of income being spent by Britons varies widely from city to city. While the national average is about 45% for families on a low income, for residents of London on a low income they may spend as much as 80% of their income on rent.
This all but makes it impossible for say a security guard to be able to afford any type of decent housing in London. Instead they need to live way outside the city or spend a long time commuting each day, which is also costly.
Think about this as how many hours per week employees need to work just to pay to put a roof over their heads. If an individual is working a full 40 hour week, then about 18 hours of that is enough to cover their rent. So about 50% of the hours they work go to pay for private housing. That is a lot of time and effort!
This also puts working class people at tremendous risk. What if they get sick and miss a few days? Or if they have a more serious health care crisis? What if their car breaks down and they need to pay for it and/or miss work as a result? Or if they have a sick child and need to stay home to care for him/her? People face so called life issues every day. But when they are “living on the edge”, one or two missed pay cheques can put them into rental arrears. If and when they need help, there are solutions available to them that can help pay rent.
The high cost of housing puts working class people on the edge of homelessness. Or it can turn to them using other charitable services, such as Trussell Trust food banks or reuse furniture stores. As when most of someone’s income goes to pay just their shelter, this leaves little money for anything else. This is a national crisis that the government needs to help address.