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Council Blocks on the Way Back as Brits Priced Out of Their Capital?

Posted: 28/02/2013 13:56

Britain's post WW2 egalitarianism was visually illustrated by the sight of enormous gray council flat blocks rising amidst the exclusive environs of London's Westminster and Chelsea.

Well, we couldn't have that for long. Margaret Thatcher put a stop to this folly by privatizing the flats allowing tenants to become owners, people who might then sell their property off to highest bidder. And many did just that with the prices rising ever since.

In successive waves every few years, often when there's political upheaval somewhere else, London becomes the destination of choice for wealthy refugees just dying to buy some property here. Couple this with the A-List showbiz community's love for the capital and the fact the UK is a great place to bank and hide money, and you can see why home prices are now out of the reach for many Brits.

Today London has become one of the world's most expensive cities (overall ranked 6th) in the key categories of housing, food, transportation and entertainment. It has the world's most expensive office space and took over from Paris as priciest night-out capital. What makes this all the more curious is that the average Brit isn't a wealthy person

In fact the UK ranks 28th in the United Nation's Human Development (quality of life) Index.... as compared to numero uno Norway, Australia at number 2 and the USA at four. Even Ireland and Israel have significantly higher quality of life ratings.

What this means for the younger people, in an age of seemingly endless economic recession, is their being priced and pushed out of London and into more affordable accommodation elsewhere. In effect what's now happening here is what the ruthless Cambodian leader Pol Pot tried to violently do in his own country...depopulate the capital city (Phnom Plenh).

To give you a example, a modest three bedroom terrace house in suburban Ealing, London bought in 1981 for £29,000 recently sold for £620,000. And this is normal.

It's has just been reported first-time buyers have to spring for more than £60,000 just as a deposit on average terraced house and flat prices of more than £250,000. And those aren't located in the posh West End, but in the suburbs.

Overall, the price of an average London home will rise to at least £500,000 by the end of the decade - an increase of more than 30 per cent on today's £383,000 average, according to research published by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Now couple this with the just as inflated ever rising annual price of commuting, now at £4000 plus, to work in London from distant suburbs and it could spell deep trouble for the capital's economic future. The UK public ransport fares are top of the world table.

One example: In France, the 24-mile journey from Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris cost £924.66 - while commuters on the Woking-to-London route paid £3,268 last year

Business and industry will find the costs of locating here prohibitive and they will also want to be where the labor force is...out of London.

Those who remain will be here to serve the growing numbers of wealthy full and part-time London residents as the city continues its gentrification transformation of former working-class areas..

But these service sector workers will need affordable accomodation. And the only answer will be the re introduction of council flat construction on a massive scale that will rival the post WW2 period. Hopefully they won't be so gray and ugly this time.

On top of this, with the steady rise of public transport fares and petrol prices, look for attempts to re-nationalize the rails. There's only so much people can afford to pay to get to work.

The hard facts of life are Britian is not going to have a miraculous economic recovery no matter whose in charge at No.10. If anything, jobs will continue to disappear as automation and computers continue to take over the workplace.

Yet since politicians aren't very interested in the future, just short-term present-day diversions such as EU membership or gay marriage, don't expect any panic buttons to be pressed. The only thing Londoners will notice is their bank balances declining more rapidly than ever before as they search for affordable places to live and cheap ways to get there.

 

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