Is Kensington really safer than Battersea? The answer may surprise you

Kensington Chelsea

A multi-million pound divorce case in the High Court had to consider an interesting London question this week, the relative safety of some neighbourhoods.

A woman fighting her ex husband for a settlement that includes a £5 million house in Kensington told the court that she felt ‘frightened’ when she left the area. She had rejected alternative homes suggested by her ex valued at around £2.5 million in the ‘less opulent’ areas of Shepherd’s Bush and Battersea.

But was her faith in the security of the Royal Borough misplaced?  As the couple remain anonymous it’s not possible to look at the exact locations of all the homes involved but the crime rates for the different boroughs may offer some surprises.

Affluent and exclusive Kensington and Chelsea has a crime rate of 121 offences per 1,000 residents, according to data from the GLA.  It’s the fourth highest rate in London and well above the city average of 84.

Shepherd’s Bush is in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.  It neighbours Kensington and Chelsea and has a slightly lower crime rate of 113 offences per 1,000 residents.

The more secure option may have been the Battersea home.  Battersea is in the borough of Wandsworth where crime is well below average at 72 per 1,000 people.

The judge, Mrs Justice Roberts, ruled that the alternatives put forward by the ex-husband were in ‘respectable and established family residential areas’.

She said: “Even allowing for the fact that she clearly has an anxious personality, I am not persuaded that any of these areas can be characterised as unsafe or inappropriate, devoid of the kind of amenities usually associated with areas occupied by professional families and others.”

The judge decided that the woman needed a housing fund of £2.5 million not the £5 million she was asking for.

If safety is her utmost concern then she might consider boroughs where the crime rate is less than half that of Kensington and Chelsea. Harrow has the lowest crime rate in London – just 50 crimes per 1,000 residents.  In Bexley the rate is 52 and in Sutton it is just 56.  None, of course, are as fashionable.

Crime rate

Source data

See also

London Borough Profiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratio reveals the most affordable place to buy a home

terrace on hil-2The most affordable borough to buy a home in London is Barking and Dagenham.  A house in this area in the east of London costs a fraction more than seven times local annual earnings.

Barking and Dagenham is the only borough in London with a ratio that is below the average for England. Across England the median house price is 7.49 times the salary for a full time job.

The ratio is calculated by the Department of Communities and Local Government using median house prices rather than the average to avoid distortion due to highs and lows.  These are then compared to median wages locally.

According to this calculation the most affordable boroughs other than Barking and Dagenham are mostly in Outer London.   The median house price is less than 10 times salary in Bexley, Havering, Croydon and Hounslow, and in the Inner London borough of Tower Hamlets.

The least affordable places are central and west London boroughs including Wandsworth, Richmond, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster. But at the top of the scale is Kensington and Chelsea, where the median house price was nearly 40 times the median salary in 2015.

Since the start of the century the ratio in the royal borough has gone up by 178%.  And a similar dramatic change, from lower levels, has happened in Hackney and Waltham Forest, where the ratio has gone from around five times salary to 15 and 13 respectively since 2000.

The change from 2014 to 2015, the most recent years recorded, was highest in Redbridge where the ratio changed by 17% from a little over 10 times salary to just over 12.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the ratio actually fell by 6%, and in Westminster it came down by 1%.

Median House Price to Earnings Ratio 2015
Kensington and Chelsea 39.67
Westminster 24.16
Hammersmith and Fulham 22.33
Camden 19.46
Richmond upon Thames 18.07
Wandsworth 17.68
City of London 17.11
Islington 16.32
Hackney 15.23
Harrow 14.71
Barnet 14.28
Merton 14.27
Ealing 14.25
Haringey 14.11
Kingston upon Thames 13.83
Brent 13.67
Lambeth 13.08
Waltham Forest 13.02
Southwark 12.85
Bromley 12.42
Redbridge 12.21
Enfield 11.64
Lewisham 11.15
Sutton 10.90
Greenwich 10.75
Hillingdon 10.29
Newham 10.12
Hounslow 9.88
Croydon 9.83
Havering 9.78
Bexley 9.41
Tower Hamlets 9.00
Barking and Dagenham 7.19

Source data

See also

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

The homes affordability crisis

The Housing Shortage

 

 

Mayoral Election Issues: The homes affordability crisis

Flats Tom Gowanlockshutterstock_134424665-1-2-1-2-2

Photo: Tom Gowan ┃Shutterstock

London may like to see itself as a forward looking and progressive city but when it comes to property it is heading back to the 70s. Owning your own home is a long-held aspiration for millions of people that was realised in the property booms of the 80s and 90s, assisted by the Right to Buy scheme where tenants were allowed to purchase their council-provided property.

But the data on property tenure across London reveals that trend is being rapidly reversed and the pattern of ownership, private rental, and social housing now resemble London in the 70s.

After climbing to its peak in the 90s owner-occupation had fallen to 50% by 2011.   For the majority of younger Londoners, buying a home is no longer an option and those in their 30s appear resigned to belonging to what has been labelled “generation rent”.  In 1990 nearly 60% of people aged 25-34 owned their own home, by the end of 2014 that had dropped to 26%[1].

For those under 25 the picture is even starker.  Just 6% of this age group own their own property. In 1990 it was nearly a quarter of them.

The data shows that the only group where home ownership is climbing is the over 65s.  These people mostly own their own home outright, having paid off their mortgage.

Property ownership by age

The proportion of homes owned outright now exceeds those owned with a mortgage across England and Wales according to the English Housing Survey carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government[2].  According to the figures collected in 2014/15, 33% of homes in England are mortgage free compared to 30% households that are still paying the mortgage.  61% of those who own their home outright are over 65.  London is the only place where this tipping point is yet to be reached and mortgaged homes (27%) still outnumber wholly owned ones (23%), but the gap is closing as the number of properties owned with mortgage falls.

The problem for young Londoners seeking a mortgage is not just one of meeting the monthly payments but in raising the funds in the first place.  The median property price in the capital is now 11 times average earnings, compared to 7 times across England.

The price to earnings ratio is at the national average in Barking but in Wandsworth it is 17 times earnings, in Hackney nearly 15 and in Kensington and Chelsea 38 times earnings[3].

house to earnings map

This situation is worsening more rapidly in London than elsewhere in the UK.  In 1997 the median house cost 4 times the median salary. That ratio has since more than doubled across the country, but nearly tripled in London.

The reduction in home ownership in London, particularly for under 35s has fuelled the growth in the private rental sector.  The most recent English Housing Survey revealed that 1 in 4 of the private rented houses in England are in the capital and the private rented sector increased from 14% to 30% in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014-15[4].

As the population of the capital grows, demand is outstripping supply and the affordability of rent has become a problem for people who were already priced out of the ability to buy a property.

For these people, rent takes up a very large proportion of their income. The English Housing Survey revealed that London households were paying 72% of their gross income in rent. This was reduced to 60% when housing benefit was included. By comparison, rent accounts for 52% of income for households across England.

The plight for young people under 24 was worse. The survey found that they were handing over 88% of their income in housing costs when benefits are excluded.

The latest data from the Valuation Agency Office[5], a body that advises the government on property prices, shows the high level of London premiums in the private rental sector.

We looked at median prices to iron out the highs and lows that affect averages.  The proportion of the price difference between London and the rest of England is biggest for 2 and 3 bedroom houses – the types of property that families need.

Median monthly rental
London England
Room only £550 £350
Studio £875 £500
1 Bedroom £1,200 £540
2 Bedroom £1,450 £595
3 Bedroom £1,750 £695
4+ Bedroom £2,700 £1,200

Across London there are distinct variations with the highest median rate for all properties in Westminster, and only 4 boroughs – Sutton, Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Bexley, where it is below £1,000.

Rental all prop map

The rise in rents seems relentless. Data from the ONS’s Index of Private Housing Rental Prices, a quarterly index that tracks the prices paid for renting from private landlords shows a 4% rise in Feb 2016[6] compared to the same period last year. Over a 10-year period prices in London have risen by 35% compared to 17% for the rest of England.

Faced with high costs in the private sector there has been a growing demand for Londoners for rental property at an affordable price.  Previously this fell into the category of social housing – property provided by a council or a housing association with long, secure tenancies and rents at around 50% of the market rates.

In 2010 the government introduced a new category, which it confusingly called Affordable Rent.  This aimed to give social landlords a route to maintaining or increasing the amount of lower cost rental while relying less on public funding. It allows them to charge more and have less restrictive tenancies.  Affordable Rent properties can charge up to 80% of the market rate.

The problem for London is that for many, Affordable Rents are not affordable.  Let’s look at the numbers if we apply the social and affordable rent rules to the median monthly market rates we saw above from the VOA.

Market Rate Affordable Rent (80%) Social Rent (50%)
1 Bedroom £1,155 £924 £577.50
2 Bedroom £1,400 £1,120 £700
3 Bedroom £1,695 £1,356 £847.50
4 Bedroom + £2,500 £2,000 £1,250

A family that needs a 3 or 4-bedroom house would require a substantial income to afford an Affordable Rent and in many areas of central London the cost will be much higher.

Some families may be able to claim Housing Benefit to bridge the gap but the Benefit Cap introduced in 2013 means that the total claim for all benefits for a family is £500 a week – the amount needed just for rent of a 4-bedroom house in these calculations.

Increasing the supply of housing is one key to solving the affordability crisis. All mayoral candidates in the election are promising to do this but after years in which house-building failed to keep pace with demand this will be a mammoth task.

See also

Mayoral Election Issues: The Housing Shortage

Source data

[1] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-london

[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501065/EHS_Headline_report_2014-15.pdf

[3] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/ratio-house-prices-earnings-borough/resource/122ea18a-cb44-466e-a314-e0c62a32529e

[4]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501065/EHS_Headline_report_2014-15.pdf

[6] http://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/indexofprivatehousingrentalprices/february2016

This report was produced in association with London Live’s special election programme, London Votes.

Far more 16-year-olds staying in school in London than across the UK

students hands up-2Far more young people are staying on in full-time education in London than elsewhere in the country.  Nearly half as many leave school at 16, 22% compared to 40% nationally.

London also has the highest rate of people entering further education after school age, with a third of people studying full time until they are 20 -23.

Leaving age London v UK

This trend for more time in education has been developing over a number of years in both London and the UK and is captured in data gathered by the Office for National Statistics through its Annual Population Survey.  The latest breakdown of these figures at borough level is for 2014 and it shows a wide discrepancy in the age of leaving education across the capital.

Nearly half the young people in Havering and 40% in Bexley leave education at 16.  School leaver rates are also high in Barking and Dagenham, and Enfield.  In comparison, the boroughs in the west of the city have large proportions staying in education. Just 9% in Richmond leave school at 16, 11% in Westminster, 12% in Kensington and Chelsea, and 13% in Wandsworth, and Hammersmith and Fulham.Leaving age boroughsWhen these numbers are combined with those leaving full time education at 19 three quarters of people are out of education in Havering by that age and 60% or more in Enfield, Sutton, Barking and Dagenham, and Bexley.

But in Wandsworth, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster fewer than a third have left education.

This inner-outer, east-west divide is also evident in those staying in education until aged 24 and over.  In Kensington and Chelsea 22% are in education until this age and it’s nearly 20% I Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster.  But Havering has just 4% of people coming out of education at 24 and over, with 5% in Bexley and Enfield.

The data also reveals that some of London’s 16-69 year-old have never been in full-time education. In Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest it is an estimated 3% of the adult population under 70.

Source data

See also

Fight for reception gets tougher as more kids swell primary school demand

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

Where are all the young people? The in-out flow of 20-something Londoners

 

 

A prosperity divide and neither rich nor poor seem happy

© Acmanley | Dreamstime.com - London Street Art Photo

Photo: © Acmanley | Dreamstime.com

The people of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden are among the wealthiest on average in the UK, but money is not buying them happiness, as they are more miserable than many across the country.

These findings emerge in an index that looks at the combination of wealth and life satisfaction to indicate levels of prosperity. It suggests that 6 London boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London) are the most prosperous in the country. But 4 others (Bexley, Greenwich, Brent and Croydon) are in the bottom 10 of 170 areas assessed.

The high prosperity scores for London boroughs are based largely on wealth not well-being. The Legatum Institute, a think tank that says that it is focused on promoting prosperity, put the index together. It used GDP per capita as a measure of wealth and the life satisfaction data collected by the Office for National Statistics.

Residents in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London, enjoy an average income of £133,000. 15 of the top 20 areas in the UK for average earnings, including Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Haringey and Islington, are in London. But the spread of wealth is not uniform across the capital and some boroughs come at the lower end of the table. Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Enfield and Barking and Dagenham have average earnings of £14,300.

What is common to all London boroughs however is the low level of life satisfaction. The happiest place in the UK according the ONS measure is the Outer Hebrides. Out of 170 areas the only London borough to squeeze into the top 50 is Bromley at 49 in the rankings.

Wealthy Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea are down in the mid 80s and only 6 other boroughs (Ealing, Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Richmond and Hounslow) make it into the top 100.

While residents of Camden and the City of London come top for earnings they are in the bottom 10 when it comes to happiness, along with Croydon and Brent. Haringey and Islington folk also seem to be miserable – 11th from bottom in the life satisfaction rankings.

Source data

See also

Well-being and wealth – how South West London soars ahead of the rest

Pay rates underline gap between rich and poor boroughs

Welcome to the city of the super rich

 

 

Mapping Londoners: Born in Sweden

For a small country of 9.7 million people, Sweden has quite an impact. From H&M on the high street, Ikea in our homes or Spotify on our music players, Swedish brands are part of British life.

But there are few Swedish people resident in the UK. According to the 2011 census 14,747 of the resident population of London were born in Sweden. That’s about half of all the Swedes in the UK and just 0.2% of Londoners.

Most live centrally, with 10% in Westminster, 1.200 in Kensington and Chelsea and 895 in Camden. Hackney, Richmond and Wandsworth were other favourite boroughs.

Born in Sweden

According to the most recent population estimates, based on the Annual Population Survey, so less reliable than the census, the number of Swedes appears to have fallen and may be down to 10,000 in London.

So some Swedish Londoners may have headed home. Those that remain can keep in touch with the homeland using Skype – that’s a Swedish invention too.

Source data

Mapping Londoners: Born in Denmark

Mapping Londoners: Born in Norway

More population maps