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Business Comment

James Moore: House prices are ruining London's diversity

Outlook Another day, another set of house price numbers, with the Office for National Statistics stepping up this time. Its figures show that house price inflation is falling, but the sting in the tail is that the disparity between different parts of the UK is rising.

Some parts are still showing year-on-year declines, notably Scotland and Northern Ireland, but London is picking up speed with an increase of 5.9 per cent.

At this rate you'll soon be able to sell your London home and retire north of the border with a tidy pension from the profits.

Without the capital, the United Kingdom would seem to be a rather barren place economically. Ah, but hold on a second. There is an argument that holds that it acts as a magnet that draws in money and talent from the rest of a country, which might muddle through OK if it weren't there.

It's an academic debate, however. The capital is there, and the richer it gets the greater the pull becomes. Which is why housing is so ruinously expensive, and increasingly unaffordable, particularly to those people who provide services vital to keeping it attractive.

There's always the option of renting, but that too is becoming increasingly pricey, particularly without the balancing effect of social housing, of which there is a dearth.

Increasingly a situation is being created where the central parts of the city are being cleansed of those on modest incomes. Will we one day see an end to the diversity which is one of its great strengths, with the providers of those services being bussed in from our equivalent of the Parisian banlieues? C'est possible.