Fallout from a bursting of London’s housing bubble would lap up to No 10

OUTLOOK: Cassandra was right about Troy all along. So I’ll make no apologies for carping unfashionably about the risk that we’re still getting too carried away with talk of the economic recovery.

As the Nationwide becomes the latest in a string of vested interests finally to concede we’re in an overheated housing market, and London’s Telford Homes talks of a four-year waiting list for its properties in London, it’s timely to look at the knock-on effects of a sudden end to the property bubble.

Negative equity, collapsing consumer confidence and a fall in retail sales of furniture, fridges and other expensive house-move items are the obvious hangover symptoms. But equally pernicious – and of wider political importance – is the direct impact on jobs.

According to the Office for National Statistics, no fewer than 136,000 more people are now employed in the construction sector than a year ago, before the Help to Buy and other bubble-inflating initiatives really started to bite. That makes it by far the biggest creator of jobs in the whole economy, accounting for one in every five posts created over that period.

The figures are even more pronounced if you drill down into the data covering solely our rising army of the self-employed. This shows that, of the 136,000 new construction jobs, 83,000 were working for themselves. Another way of looking at that is that one in four self-employed jobs created since early 2013 were in construction. And these are only the legit building hires that go through the government statisticians.

Construction work is predominantly done by men, but the percentage increases in new employment since the property boom are even more pronounced when it comes to women in associated property jobs – estate agents and the like – where 34,000 more women, up 20 per cent, are now employed in the sector than a year ago.

What can we conclude from all this? Only one thing – a bursting of the property bubble would be a disaster for employment. And, given the high number of self-employed on building sites who can be sacked at the drop of a hard hat, that jobs crisis could be rapid. Fast enough to cause further dissatisfaction among working-class voters before next May.

Something for the Chancellor, and the Bank of England, to chew over before dismantling Help to Buy, pushing up interest rates or clamping down on mortgage lending.

London, where the bubble is biggest and most fragile, might not be so resilient to Nigel Farage’s charms after all.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May