Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%. This puts the Conservatives back ahead in YouGov’s poll after over a week of Labour leads or the two parties neck and neck.

From what we’ve got, it’s impossible to be certain of the underlying position. It could be that Labour are still ahead, and this poll is just a bit of an outlier, or it could be that there was a short-term movement against the Conservatives, possibly as a result of the protests against tuition fees, but it has faded away again as the news agenda has moved on.

273 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – 40/38/11”

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  1. Aleksandar

    The difference between today and the early Nineties is that interest rates aren’t in double figures (technically they aren’t even in single figures!). So the cost of financing is going to be much more reasonable, except for those who leveraged themselves silly, who’ve probably already got what they deserved.

    Just as important lenders have learnt from previous recessions and have not been so keen to foreclose and sell. It’s against their interests to depress prices and chasing mortgagees for the balance owed on default did not prove as easy as they thought it would be. There’s also a lot less of them now than there were then, so keeping a common policy is easier. And of course financial institution have been massively propped up by “quantitative easing”, so the pressure to realise cash hasn’t really been there.

    So house prices are still down from their silly peak at the end of 2007, but only by 9% – roughly where they were in the Autumn of 2006. Not many will be in negative equity on those figures – except for the terminally feckless, who will already have been terminated.

    It’s true there may be more pressure on certain types of housing, particularly small flats, not least because the “executive apartment” was the big star of the buy-to rent boom. Flats and maisonettes are still 12.8% down on peak and presumably would be more so if they weren’t disproportionately concentrated in the South East. The changes in the sharing rules may help on this – but only at the expense of creating upward pressure elsewhere on the market. Furthermore this segment of the market is the main one with variable demand. So in other words if rents drop, more people will move from living with parents or communally into their own place or if sale prices go down Mummy and Daddy may buy a place for them. So any fall could be stabillised pretty quickly.

    I’m particularly worried about the effect of the various housing-related benefit changes on family accommodation in more popular areas. I looked at the effect of the changes on a hypothetical family of six in East London a while back and did a search on a property website for 4 bed-roomed properties. (I soon realised that in a 3-bed you’d never get a pair of kids in the smallest bedroom).

    The median (page 26 of 52) -the current top limit for LHA – was £450 per week; the 30 percentile (p 17 of 52) £370 pw. That’s £23,400 per annum and £19,240 pa for “market rents” – above and near the proposed £400 pw limit and not taking into account the total proposed £25,000 pa benefit cap. And of course these caps are supposed to be the ones that effect least people.

    But these properties are also used by groups of four plus adults house-sharing. As you point out, the number of those will increase with the benefit changes, so rents may actually go up.

    I chose East London as the cheapest area and a lot of these properties were quite far out from Central London. It shows how difficult it is for families to get rentals that aren’t at these “unjustified” levels.

    It’s probably true that the LHA was a mistake (another example of putting one’s faith in the markets), but the trouble with ratchets is that they only work one way.

    The initiatives you mention are well and good but only really address the problem at the edges. Unless you nationalise all housing (I’m not suggesting it), there will always be empty properties and most will be validly so for refurbishment etc. Conversion of commercial properties has been talked about for a long time, but modern commercial accommodation is often expensive to alter. Differential VAT etc may even make it cheaper to demolish and rebuild, which in turn will produce very expensive residential use or much more saleable commercial ones.

    It’s a paradox but one of the results of successfully avoiding a depression (so far), has been to make the solution of some long term problems harder.

  2. @ Mike N

    “I’m tempted to say it’s a great double act in the best traditions of comedy! There, I’ve done it.

    I won’t be able to see any clip of Fawlty Towers without thinking of DC and NC.”

    Heh. Glad to have created that image for you. I think one of the fun things about following British politics is that there are a number of British movies and tv shows that have political references in them (including Fawlty Towers) and if you follow British politics and know what the references are about, the shows are that much more enjoyable.

  3. @Mike – “… funniest revealing moment today!”

    For me it was the lady in social housing (Hackney) on R4 this morning:

    “You want to know what it’s like here?
    If you fart, they’ll nick it!”

  4. There is so much misunderstanding or downright economic ignorance that it is dificult to know where to start.
    Firstly, if any major Irish bank fails then it will be the U.K banks that suffer the most. That is why we are lending the Irish money. It`s like bailing out our own banks but at a distance. The gov` would prefer a loan guarantee but the Irsh situation has gone too far for that.
    Second, wait to see what the Irish electorate are going to have to suffer for these loans. It will make our belt tightening look like a spending spree.
    Thirdly, those who just say let the banks go bust are either overborrowed themselves or would not suffer if mortgages were withdrawn and loans called in.
    Fourthly, it is a little galling to have to tighten our belts but help out others who have, like Brown enjoyed overspending without worrying about the tomorrow, but Ireland is our trading neighbour and it would be in our interest to help in or out of the Euro or in or out of the E.U.
    Sadly perhaps we are all, to a greater or lesser extent economically interdependent and, thanks to the election result, at least it is not the E.U. dictating to us the terms of a loan to bail US out !!

    It is an old tradition of ours. If I read or watch an adaptation of David Copperfield, I think of every Labour govenment we have ever had.

  6. BillyBob

  7. one thing that has occurred to me is that if Britain had not helped out with the irish rescue then the markets would have been swamped with rumors that the UK was in such bad shape that the govt dare not contribute

    just a thought

  8. @R I N
    And it is probably not a bad thought Richard. There are unquestionably those who will endeavor to paint the blackest picture of the governments economic performance.

  9. Socal liberal
    So what do you think of the AV experiment in Ca?

    (Exasperated smile).

  10. Anyone catch Jeremy Vine this afternoon? Very strange contributions from John Redwood and some Labour woman I didn’t recognise, but who used to be a BoE economist. Basically she was pro-government and Redwood was anti-government on the RoI bailout. Kudos to her she didn’t even stoop to any politicking at all. 100% economist, 0% politician. One to watch. (Think she was called “Reeves” or something like that?)

  11. @Roger Mexico

    Thank you for your detailed comments. I’ll try to be brief as we’re off-topic.

    My point about the 90s was to show that long-term prices are determined by supply and demand whereas short-term fluctuations are down to the propensity of sellers to take down or buyers to pay up.
    I appreciate that govt and lender policy for the last three years has been to deliver a soft landing to the property market.

    The sharing rules will IMHO affect the long-term situation as some people will be forced into a smaller living space. Current under 35s will have to make very difficult decisions. I accept that it will change the relative prices of shared vs s/c accommodation but surely it will lead to more people living in the same space. This may well unleash other demand as you suggest.

    This is a very useful site that details the changes in LHA for each area. It shows the effect of the move to 30 percentile and how the cap operates. It saves a lot of time doing the legwork for you.

    h ttp://

    There were 652k empty homes in England in 2009 of which 307k had been empty for over six months. Refurbishment/probate may account for many empty homes but after six months I’d start questioning my builders/lawyers.

    Figures from Westminster Council show that since 2001 three million sq ft of office space was converted to residential use with an extra million converted to hotel and leisure use in Central London. I estimate the 25% reduction in govt use will free up about 10 million sq ft at a rough guess or over 30 Centrepoints just in London and the SE. Not all will be suitable for conversion however they will be in prime locations.
    I accept that these measures will not solve the housing problem but we have to explore every avenue. No pun intended.

  12. RiN
    “if Britain had not helped out with the irish rescue then the markets would have been swamped with rumors that the UK was in such bad shape that the govt dare not contribute”

    This made me smile!

    Just as well then the Con gov has been painting such a wonderful picture of the heathy state of the UK economy for at least the last six months!

    Going dark now

  13. @ NeilA

    didn’t hear J Vine – can’t bear his voice! – but think you might be referring to Rachel Reeves new MP for Leeds West.

  14. @ Peter Ross
    Excellent post Peter. It never ceases to amaze me that some people just don’t get it. I do & I only went to a secondary modern & missed university as well! So those more educated than me, should be able to grasp the basics. Perhaps education & intelligence don’t always go hand in hand?

  15. Nick Hadley,
    You echo my thoughts regarding Roland Haines absolutely.It is interesting that whenever he has lost an
    argument he always accuses one of childishness.By far

    the best way to deal with this is to not engage at all.I think
    that the goverment have two problems now.Firstly they will be seen as bailing out the banks again and also they have continually told us that we are in such dire straights
    this necessitated cuts which will only yield the amount of the loan to Ireland.This will impact on the polls Ithink.

    Whose lost an argument? Perhaps myself against Amber from time to time. But never against you or your friend Nick Hadley. You have shown what good losers you are since the GE.
    Since we are heavily into stereotypes today, pray tell me what part of the public sector employs you.

  17. @ Howard

    This was a terrible idea, a solution in search of a problem. I’m fortunate that this is only being used in a few places like Oakland. In some ways I’m happy that Don Perrata (who was the favored candidate) lost the election. He was the State Senate President and he’s not a particularly good guy. And I’m sure Jean Quan will be a fine mayor.

    But the problem is, only 13% of voters voted for her to be the mayor. She’s going to be the mayor based on weird calculations of preferences. And I have a feeling that this system will be scrapped (if not struck down by the courts). Mathematical calculations should not bring one to victory. Winning the most votes should get one to victory. And asking people to rank who they like by preferences is silly. Pick a candidate, vote for that candidate.

    The thing I’ve noticed is that there are a number of people (usually those who don’t understand how government works in the first place) who will attack the system that is in place, claim it is unfair, and propose a solution that is stupid, poorly thought out, and could result in unintended consequences. And usually they will couch their bad idea in terms of being fair and progressive minded.

  18. @ Boycee

    Do you think GO is using any of our money to loan to the Irish? He’s borrowing it @ AAA rates (3% ish) and lending it to them at a somewhat higher rate.

  19. Robert in FRance

    “@ Peter Ross
    Excellent post Peter”


    ” Perhaps education & intelligence don’t always go hand in hand?”

    Don’t think you need “perhaps” Robert…..or the question mark :-)

  20. @ Peter Ross

    Yes, good post – we should help our neighbours in ROI, if we can.

    But… should we not also help our ‘neighbours’ here in the UK when they fall on hard times instead of cutting our support to them?

    Should we not help our children get a good education & our construction workers’ employment prospects by building schools, here?

    Should we not help our young people – & universities too – by funding them properly?

    Why do bank & hedge fund ‘neighbours’ deserve our help more than other groups?

  21. amber

    have you gone all christian, next you will start turning the other cheek

    nah i can’t see it :-)

  22. i’m reading that the bailout will probably come to 210B euros

    do you think that georgie boy knows


    “They need to rebrand or give up.”

    It is said that nothing sells the product like “NEW!”.

    So “New Conservative” then? I think not, that’s tainted now. “Old Conservative” would be better than that, and what’s needed, but it’ not a winner.

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