Friday, 24 June 2011

Standing on the edge of an abyss



The Euro-zone crisis appears to have pushed more European tenants into the central London rental market since the beginning of the year, with European tenants taking 30.4% of all new lets between January to May 2011 compared to 25% during the same period in 2010.

What seems to be happening here in London is that our better off and affluent European cousins are escaping the beleaguered simmering Euro-zone; and just what exactly can be read into this if anything at all; well I am not quite sure. But the statistics do speck for themselves and make interesting reading. 

Tenants now comprise 39.4% of all prime London market tenants (Jan to May 2011), down from 45.3% in 2010. But prime central London lettings volumes rose 7% year-on-year in May, after a weaker performance earlier in the year, aided by a slight rise in stocks and increased tenant demand. European and overseas tenant demand helped to push rents higher by 0.5% in May, meaning that rents have risen by nearly 26% since the low point they hit in June 2009, to hit a record high.

It is said that prime London rental market has been one of the main beneficiaries in a ‘posh up market’ recovery in the City and a stones cast off from me in Canary Wharf, with rents claiming by a  massive 25.4% compared to a low that they were said to have hit in June 2009. 

The surge in demand from European tenants reflects staff transfers into London's financial and business service firms, with a big demand from countries which are bogged down in economic difficulties, which paints a picture that some practitioners of fiance have sought refuge in London.

With demand from newly arrived European workers in London likely to continue to rise through this year - rental growth forecasts of between 5 to 10% for central London is expected to be achieved.

So there you have it, London is being invaded by the well paid handmaidens of capital, and where are they exactly coming from then - France, tenants up (80%), Portugal ( 62% ), Ireland (76%), Greece (33%) and Spain (73%). 

Standing on the edge of an abyss looking-down into a bottomless gulf or pit; an unfathomable strong current, its flow so strong and full of electricity sent through a conductor of capitalism it submerges and puts the lights out for many; that’s what the new housing crises building up in intensity will be and is like, an unstable situation of extreme danger and difficulty for working people here in London.

Only the other night London's Evening Standard reported that thousands of schoolchildren in parts of central London could be forced to move because of housing benefit cuts. It said that one in six children at primary schools in Westminster may have to move home - and school in many cases - once caps on housing benefit come fully into force. In Maida Vale, it is said an astonishing 43 per cent could be forced to move, with the limits due to apply to existing claimants coming in from next January. 

I have felt for some considerable time now, that London has been going through a process of transformation, and if you have lived here as long as I have, then you will have noticed the changes, not just in the appearance of familiar places and the ever sprouting-up glass forest of the modern office blocks that try as it may to ravel London's ancient woodland.

In the short span of 34 years I have been witness, and bear it like a scar, an exit of working people, the dieing and disappearance of an industrial and trading past. All gone in a relatively short span of time; travailing around the ‘Smoke’ as we use to call it in the 70s; it is now a rarity and a noteworthy scarcity to see working men and women, the manual working labourer's, of building workers, painters and decorators, cleaners, cook’s and factory workers to recall but a few, travelling to and from their places of work in this great city. Not only has the Routemaster, the famous red double-decker bus, become a non-visible object of a past time, along with it have gone many a factory, warehouse and world renowned docks. 

I could tell you much about these changes, but that would take for ever and that’s not the subject under consideration here, the point being is that capitalism has been the force of change as always, and not just in London, look anywhere and you will see the same forced process at work. Even up North  -  With the mines and steel works gone, with unemployment high, tight-knit rural communities face a daily struggle as well. But in London the transformation that is taking place involves shedding its old skin forcefully for a new one that decants much of the population and replaces it with a new and by far more affluent assemblage that will service this world money laundering centre, trying to retain its place in the world and at a cost - high unemployment, grinding poverty and homelessness!”

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