Renters wield more electoral power

The growth of private renting in the past decade has given renters more political power, an activist group claims.

Generation Rent’s analysis of the 2021 Census claims to have found that 194 constituencies in England have populations containing 20 per cent or more private renters – that’s up from 114 in 2011.

And whereas previously renters had been relatively concentrated in a small number of inner city seats, they are now apparently in greater numbers in suburbs and satellite towns of London and other major cities.

Generation Rent admit that this increased influence depends on renters bothering to register to vote, and it concedes that an estimated 1.22m people were not registered to vote anywhere at the 2019 election – some 45 per cent of these being private renters.

The activist group claims the most dramatic growth in renting has taken place in suburban England, including the northern and western outskirts of London and the outer reaches of metropolitan areas like Dudley and Oldham.

There has apparently been an 89 per cent increase in the number of seats with 30 per cent or more of the population in private rented homes, from 37 in 2011 to 70 in 2021. 

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of the group, says: “It is getting harder for politicians to ignore renters. The renter population continued to grow in the 2010s, but because many of us have been pushed out of city constituencies by high rents and the need for family homes, renters’ political power has grown even more, and could make a difference in many more seats at future elections.

“But this new political influence is limited if we aren’t registered to vote in the first place, and it is too easy to fall off the register after a stressful house move. We have mapped the private rented sector to inform our campaign to make sure renters have a political voice, and we hope this work will help others who are working to widen democratic participation.”

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