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Rents are falling, insists new housing minister

Housing minister Mark Prisk has followed his party’s line by claiming that private rents have been going down.

He told the Commons that rents have fallen in real terms, because they have risen less than the rate of inflation.

His answer to a parliamentary question follows similar claims from his predecessor Grant Shapps, and from prime minister David Cameron – who quoted an LSL survey of rents.

Prisk was answering a question from Conservative MP Richard Fuller about housing benefit caps.

Prisk’s full reply was: “The housing benefit cap was introduced to ensure that claimants were not able to live in properties beyond the means of those not on benefit. The housing benefit cap only affects claimants living in the private rented sector and therefore tenants of local authority owned housing stock are not affected.

“My department, with the Department for Work and Pensions, is funding research into the impact of the local housing allowance changes on private rented sector tenants, landlords and local authorities. The housing benefit cap is one of the changes to the local housing allowance regime. An initial report was published on 14 June and can be found on the DWP website. There will be an interim early next year and the final report later in 2013.

“The most recent official statistics published by the Valuation Office Agency in August 2012 show that median private sector rents across England rose by 0.9% in the year to June 2012, compared to a rise in RPI inflation of 2.8% over the same period. Rents have thus fallen in real terms, although there are local variations.”

According to LSL’s latest report, rents rose by an average of 3.2% in the year to the end of this August. According to the Government, Consumer Price Index inflation slowed to 2.2% in September, and RPI inflation to 2.6% in the same month.

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