Could housing swing the election in London? With several constituencies looking likely to change hands, Shelter has examined the housing situation in some of those swing seats. It's likely that housing is on many people's minds, and it could be enough to tip the balance.
In Ealing Central and Acton, currently held by Conservative Angie Bray with an 8% majority, rents jumped 14% during 2014 — by far the highest of London's hotly fought-over seats. There's been an increase of 66% since 2001 of people renting privately in the constituency, and drops of 4% living in social housing, 7% who own their own home outright and 22% currently paying off a mortgage. 82 out of every 1,000 residents are on the housing waiting list compared with 60 out of every 1,000 in England. No wonder a recent ComRes poll thinks Bray is vulnerable.
Another exposed Tory seat is Enfield North, where the number of people renting privately has shot up 121% since 2001. Renting's risen 66% over the same period in Hampstead and Kilburn, though if Labour holds that seat it'll be because of a predicted collapse in the Lib Dem vote than anything else (despite how much we shout about it, not everything's about housing).
The one London MP who really could claim to have done something about housing is Sarah Teather, who withstood a filibuster to get a ban on revenge evictions onto the statute books. Teather is, however, standing down in Brent Central (66% increase in private renters since 2001) and the Liberal Democrats have had problems finding their next candidate.
Almost all the seats show a decline in people owning their own homes and living in social housing, and a rise in those renting privately. This isn't unique to these areas, of course — it's common right across London — but we'd recommend any politician in a tight contest should sharpen up their talk about housing (this should go for all politicians, but it's amazing how safe seat incumbents' minds drift when little's at stake). A shame, then, that we're struggling to find a credible housing policy from any of the parties.