New research has revealed that millions of workers are struggling to cope with living costs due to spiralling rent prices.
According to the study by the New Policy Institute, one in five Britons live below the poverty line once housing costs are taken into account.
The issue is affecting Londoners the most, with one in four tenants in the capital hit by sky-high rents.
One in Five Tenants Struggle to Pay the Rent
This includes 1.2m who live in working households, a huge rise over the last ten years.
One renter finding life in the capital too difficult is primary school teacher Anna Evans. The 25-year-old pays £720 per month for a house in Balham, south London, which she shares with five other tenants.
A graduate of law from the University of Birmingham, Anna says she may have to move out of London, as living costs are so high.
“I pay more than half my salary in rent,” she explains. “I just don’t have a chance to save any money.”1
Her flatmate, Joanne Wheildon is also 25 and a trainee trader. She adds: “I won’t be able to buy a house until someone I’m related to dies.”1
Rents around the UK have risen by 11% in the last five years, reaching an average of £770 a month, found the study funded by anti-poverty charity Trust For London.
Over the same period, wages have only increased by 4%. In the last decade, this has caused a 30% rise in the amount of working-age people in poverty.
In London, the average rent price has grown by 19% in the last five years, hitting £1,600 a month.
Around 860,000 private tenants in the capital are believed to be living in poverty, including 260,000 children – twice the number recorded ten years ago.
The amount of low-paid jobs has increased for the fifth consecutive year, with one in five members of staff earning less than the London living wage of £9.15 an hour.
Another worker hit by high rents is Marianna Long, an executive assistant earning £21,000 per year.
The 23-year-old pays £500 a month for a room she shares with her boyfriend in Brixton, south London.
She comments: “The rent means I absolutely cannot save. Everything goes on living expenses and paying off an overdraft from being at university in London.”1
Chelsea Wood, a forensic scientist, also earns £21,000. She pays £700 in rent for a flatshare in Clapham, southwest London.
The 24-year-old says: “I spend so much on rent that I feel as if I am living in poverty. A lot of my friends feel the same.”1
The researchers define poverty as having a household income that is under 60% of the national median.
1 Radnedge, A. (2015) ‘Workers caught in poverty trap by soaring rent’, Metro, 21 October, p.1-6