A game to hammer home how broken London house prices are

That'll be £150,000, if y… oh, you're in London? Make it £1.5m.

Viral upstarts Us vs Th3m have found a shortcut to the heart of every British person with a game about house prices. No, really, it's fun, go play it. (I scored 75 per cent). The game looks up the prices of ten houses sold in June 2013 from the land registry, and then gives you a Google Street View image of the property and the town (or London borough) it's in. From there, you just have to guess how much it is, to the nearest thousand pounds.

Two thoughts:

  1. Most people playing the game are commenting on one thing and one thing only: London house prices are unreal. For the most part, you can play the game with a rough rule of thumb: a slightly dingy looking semi is around £150,000; scale up or down based on that. But if you get too comfortable, and don't check the location, you'll find yourself being out by a factor of ten, because that dingy looking semi was actually round the corner from Harrods and sold for £1.5m.

    Look at it from the other way, as someone who just about knows what London prices are, and Paweł Morski provides the strategy:

    Divide by 3 for midlands, 5 for North.                                                                                                              

    You may think that "London is expensive" isn't big news, but it seems like a lot of people who thought they knew the score are being caught out.

  2. But I have a feeling that when the sticker-shock wears off, the other thing people will start chatting about is that the internet lets you do things which are kinda creepy. You did, after all, just find out the prices of ten strangers' houses based on photos taken by a car which has shot every street in Britain. Are people actually fully used to that reality? Or have we just not yet caught up with the new normal?
Photograph: Us vs Th3m

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.