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Row rumbles on over Raab’s comments about immigration and house prices

The government has published data related to a claim by housing minister Dominic Raab, who prompted controversy last week by suggesting immigration had led to house price rises of up to 20 per cent over the past 25 years.

"Based on the Office for National Statistics data, the advice to me from the department [of Housing, Communities and Local Government] is that in the last 25 years we have seen immigration put house prices up by something like 20 per cent" Raab said last week.

Now the MHCLG document, citing statistical modelling from the University of Readfing, suggests that each one per cent increase in population between 1991 and 2016 had led to a two per cent house price rise in the same period. 


“Applying the relationship between household growth and house prices derived from the University of Reading affordability model, the increase in the non-UK born population in England is expected to have led to a 21 per cent increase in house prices, holding all else equal” the document said.

However, the same document suggested immigration was a less significant factor in rising house prices than higher average earnings - this was responsible for 150 per cent growth in house prices, compared to only around 32 per cent for population growth including immigration.

There has been significant controversy over Raab’s claim, and the implication that individual factors can be identified as leading to house price rises. 

The BBC’s Reality Check service - which has often been used to query politicians’ claims - suggests that it is perfectly possible that immigration may have led to such a house price rise, but adds the caveat “there is a strong argument that the housing market is too complicated to assign price changes to particular factors.”

It also points out that the MHCLG report is “littered with warnings about how we should not expect its conclusions to match what has really happened because it is just a theoretical model.”

Reality Check adds that a 10 year old theoretical model should be treated with caution.


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