Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett says average income families are priced out of the borough


- Credit: Archant

The former council tenants who sold their Covent Garden flat recently for £1.2million, having bought it in 1990 for £130,000, have done well.

And if you have owned property in Newham for a few years and no longer want to continue living here, you can be equally pleased. Some houses in Newham are worth a million pounds or more, and rents can be as much as £6,000 per month. If you’re in a position to sell and move away, you’re quids in.

The trouble is that that’s bad news for anyone on an average income looking to set up home here, including teachers, nurses, firefighters and our own children as they grow up. When an average-income family can’t afford to buy or rent a decent home of their own, something is badly wrong (and if that sounds ridiculous, it shows how used we have become to this crisis).

The results include children growing up with inadequate space, the elderly ending up living far from their families, and growing homelessness.

At the same time, flats in London are being marketed around the world as investments and kept empty. We cannot go on like this.

Hundreds of years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote of a vision of a society in which children would be safe, the elderly would be cared for, and everyone would be able to work and, by doing so, to provide a decent home for their family.

Whether we share Isaiah’s religious faith or not, most of us would aspire to a similar vision, even if we disagree on how it might be achieved.

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The answers won’t be easily found. We might have to get used to three-generation homes, as are common elsewhere in Europe. We might have to be weaned off using our homes as investments.

We will need to make better use of the land that we have. And what is certainly true is that all of us – churches, faith groups, political parties and you, the people of east London – need to work together if we are to make things better. More from Elwin

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