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Call for affordable housing in London amid rent squeeze

The high cost of renting a house in London has fuelled a huge increase in the number of people in the capital who do not have enough income for a decent standard of living, a study shows.

Research for the Trust for London charity found 3.5 million Londoners have less money to meet their basic needs and have a minimum level of living, an increase of 400,000 since 2010.

The increased cost of private renting was singled out, especially for properties at the cheaper end of the market, which have risen four times as much as in the rest of the UK, said the report.

Although single adults in the rest of the country have benefited from the National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour, those in London are less able to afford a decent standard of living than before the rate came in last year, according to the research by Loughborough University.

Two out of five Londoners now cannot afford a decent standard of living, compared with under a third for the UK as a whole, it was found.

Private rents have risen by 7.2% in London between 2014 and 2016, twice as much as elsewhere, said the report.

In the same period, the cost of a nursery place for a child over the age of two increased by 8.6% in the capital compared with 5.7% for the rest of the country.

Mubin Haq, of Trust for London, said: " Whilst the National Living Wage provided a welcome boost to incomes, this was outweighed by huge increases in private rents, particularly in properties at the cheapest end of the market.

"We need a two-pronged approach which increases incomes and tackles costs.

"We need more employers paying a London Living Wage, joining the thousands of accredited employers who already pay it and we need action on costs, especially more genuinely affordable housing."

Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, commented: " Living in London is hugely expensive, and the chronic lack of affordable childcare is a perennial worry among Mumsnet users who live or work in the city.

"Coping with astronomical childcare costs alongside stagnant wages, rising food prices and for many the loss of tax credits and child benefit places many parents under enormous financial pressure."

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group said: "Today's report lifts the veil on what ordinary families are up against as costs in the capital rise and big social security cuts bite.

"More than one million London children do not have a decent living standard. By any other name that's a crisis."

Sally Copley of Oxfam said: "The fact that so many Londoners can't afford a decent standard of living shows that our capital is plagued by inequality."

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was investing £3.15 billion to boost affordable housing across London, adding: "Our Housing White Paper also sets out how we'll help those renting, including building more homes for rent and banning letting agent fees."

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