We're going to run out of houses in London

Falling well short of projections.

New household growth projections released by DCLG this week show that over 525,000 new households that will be created in London between 2011 and 2021.

The supply pipeline suggests that delivery of new units will fall well short of this, with an estimated 277,000 new units expected to be delivered over the next decade.

According to Knight Frank’s head of UK residential research, Gráinne Gilmore: “The overall trend for development in London shows that demand for housing in the capital will continue to outstrip supply by quite some margin. There is widespread recognition of the housing shortage in the capital, with the Mayor pushing hard to encourage higher levels of development."

This news could further boost prices in the capital which are already at record highs. Since the end of 2007, which is considered to be the peak of the market in most developed countries, London property prices have risen by 7 per cent (Source: Land Registry).

London prime prices have risen by even more - they are up over 20 per cent since end of 2007 (Source: Knight Frank, £1m+ homes only). London prime property has performed particularly well recently with growth of 12.2 per cent in 2011 and 8.7 per cent in 2012. In the first 5 months of 2013, prime prices rose by another 3.2 per cent according the Knight Frank figures.

This has been fuelled mainly by foreigners buying in. According to Knight Frank, local buyers made up only half of London sales in 2012. Russian buyers made up a high 6.6 per cent, USA buyers 4.8 per cent, Indian buyers 4.4 per cent, French buyers 3.3 per cent, Italian buyers 2.6 per cent and South African buyers made up 2.2 per cent. Super-prime statistics published by Knight Frank are even more extreme with local buyers making up less than a third of London buyers in 2012. Super-prime refers to properties valued at more than £10m each.

Despite this strong growth, it should be noted that London prime prices are still at a similar level to the end of 2007 if measured in US dollar terms.

This is of course still significantly healthier than general UK house prices which are down over 34 per cent since the end of 2007 (if measured in US dollar terms).

Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

Photo: Getty
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George Osborne's mistakes are coming back to haunt him

George Osborne's next budget may be a zombie one, warns Chris Leslie.

Spending Reviews are supposed to set a strategic, stable course for at least a three year period. But just three months since the Chancellor claimed he no longer needed to cut as far or as fast this Parliament, his over-optimistic reliance on bullish forecasts looks misplaced.

There is a real risk that the Budget on March 16 will be a ‘zombie’ Budget, with the spectre of cuts everyone thought had been avoided rearing their ugly head again, unwelcome for both the public and for the Chancellor’s own ambitions.

In November George Osborne relied heavily on a surprise £27billion windfall from statistical reclassifications and forecasting optimism to bury expected police cuts and politically disastrous cuts to tax credits. We were assured these issues had been laid to rest.

But the Chancellor’s swagger may have been premature. Those higher income tax receipts he was banking on? It turns out wage growth may not be so buoyant, according to last week’s Bank of England Inflation Report. The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest the outlook for earnings growth will be revised down taking £5billion from revenues.

Improved capital gains tax receipts? Falling equity markets and sluggish housing sales may depress CGT and stamp duties. And the oil price shock could hit revenues from North Sea production.

Back in November, the OBR revised up revenues by an astonishing £50billion+ over this Parliament. This now looks a little over-optimistic.

But never let it be said that George Osborne misses an opportunity to scramble out of political danger. He immediately cashed in those higher projected receipts, but in doing so he’s landed himself with very little wriggle room for the forthcoming Budget.

Borrowing is just not falling as fast as forecast. The £78billion deficit should have been cut by £20billion by now but it’s down by just £11billion. So what? Well this is a Chancellor who has given a cast iron guarantee to deliver a surplus by 2019-20. So he cannot afford to turn a blind eye.

All this points towards a Chancellor forced to revisit cuts he thought he wouldn’t need to make. A zombie Budget where unpopular reductions to public services are still very much alive, even though they were supposed to be history. More aggressive cuts, stealthy tax rises, pension changes designed to benefit the Treasury more than the public – all of these are on the cards. 

Is this the Chancellor’s misfortune or was he chancing his luck? As the IFS pointed out at the time, there was only really a 50/50 chance these revenue windfalls were built on solid ground. With growth and productivity still lagging, gloomier market expectations, exports sluggish and both construction and manufacturing barely contributing to additional expansion, it looks as though the Chancellor was just too optimistic, or perhaps too desperate for a short-term political solution. It wouldn’t be the first time that George Osborne has prioritised his own political interests.

There’s no short cut here. Productivity-enhancing public services and infrastructure could and should have been front and centre in that Spending Review. Rebalancing the economy should also have been a feature of new policy in that Autumn Statement, but instead the Chancellor banked on forecast revisions and growth too reliant on the service sector alone. Infrastructure decisions are delayed for short-term politicking. Uncertainty about our EU membership holds back business investment. And while we ought to have a consensus about eradicating the deficit, the excessive rigidity of the Chancellor’s fiscal charter bears down on much-needed capital investment.

So for those who thought that extreme cuts to services, a harsh approach to in-work benefits or punitive tax rises might be a thing of the past, beware the Chancellor whose hubris may force him to revive them after all. 

Chris Leslie is chair of Labour's backbench Treasury committee.