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UK rental housing less affordable than in 2019, ONS says

21 April 2023
Story by Reuters 

LONDON (Reuters) -Britons starting new private-sector housing tenancies spent an average of 26.8% of their income on rent in March, up from 26.6% a year earlier and 25.0% in March 2019, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday.

New apartment blocks are seen behind traditional housing in London© Thomson Reuters

“Rent is now less affordable than it was in 2019; however, it has been broadly stable for the last two years,” the ONS said.

The data was based on figures from housing data company Dataloft, which the ONS said it was now publishing as part of its weekly set of experimental economic indicators.

The figures cover about 40% of Britain’s private-sector rental market, and are based on 30,000 new private-sector tenancy agreements signed by 50,000 tenants with annual incomes between 10,000 pounds and 500,000 pounds ($12,444-$622,200).

Tenants who declared an annual income of less than 10,000 pounds likely had another source of money so were excluded from the data as it could have skewed the median ratio of rent to declared income, the ONS said.

Over the longer term, it aims to produce data showing rent affordability for people in different income brackets.

The ONS said the figures would give different results to the rental data used to calculate its monthly consumer price inflation data, which rose 4.8% in the year to March.

Separate weekly figures showed that broader business conditions remained challenging but had improved slightly from earlier in 2023, the ONS said.

Some 19% of businesses reported that their sales had risen in March, up from 16% in February, while 23% of firms surveyed in early April expected to raise their prices in May versus 53% who expected to keep them unchanged.

Consumer price inflation fell to 10.1% in March from 10.4% in February, less of a decline than most economists had forecast and the highest rate in western Europe.

($1 = 0.8036 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)