The Data Observatory
The NRLA Data Observatory is a collection of official and other well-established data sources which when combined, provide a narrative of the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The NRLA tracks approximately 45 key data sets which are updated monthly, quarterly and annually. A selection of these data sets appear in these pages.
Our Deep Insight blog provides a regular extension of the analysis which appears here, as well as those datasets which are not published in the Data Observatory section of this website.
The blog pages also features blog posts from other organisations and academics to provide insight on the PRS. Here you can also find more in-depth summaries of our regular reports and surveys.
Growth & the PRS
Chart 1: Change in GDP-measured quarterly
UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by an unrevised 0.2% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2023. This follows upwardly revised growth of 0.3% in the previous quarter (previously 0.1%). The economy has grown 0.4% since Quarter 2, 2022. Note that the graph shows first estimate data which will differ as the ONS revise their own figures. Please see the ONS website for details.
In Quarter 2, construction output shows an increase of 0.3%. The growth in Quarter 2 was driven by repair and maintenance, which grew by 0.9%. This growth was partially offset by a fall of 0.1% in new work.
June was a particularly strong month in this quarter, the economy growing 0.5% in this month compared to May.
The level of quarterly GDP in Quarter 2 2023 is now 0.2% below its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019.
Note that GDP is always subject to some revision. This is especially true post-Covid. The NRLA track the "first estimate" series. Resources mean revisions cannot always be inserted into these pages, except when new quarterly data is announced. Researchers are advised to check the relevant ONS data for the most recent figures.
Changes in price indices
Chart 2: Private rental price changes compared to other price indices
The chart above focuses on price changes in the economy since 2019. It shows three different measures of price change: The IPHRP index – described by the ONS as “experimental” - is compared in this chart to two price indices (the CPI and CPI-H), which are better known, with each collecting price data from across the wider economy. Further details about each of these measures can be found below.
The chart shows how prices have moved each month using index numbers from the ONS. Index numbers allow a month-by-month perspective on price change. The more widely reported annual indices provide a snapshot of the latest available price information, compared to those collected twelve months ago.
Unlike the two wider indices where the annual rate was unchanged, the annual rate of rental price change rose – albeit slightly – from 5.6%pa in August to 5.7% in September.
The above chart shows all prices continuing to increase, month by month – the rental index rose from 121.1 in August to 121.8 in September. Closer analysis of the indices shows that inflation as measured by both the CPI & the CPI-H has been slowing down in the second half of the year, but not the index of rental prices.
The ONS report that the owner occupiers' housing costs (OOH) component of CPIH rose by 5.0% in the 12 months to September 2023, up from 4.8% in August. This is the highest annual rate since March 1993 when it was also 5.0%.
The annual rate of food inflation stood at 12.2%pa in September 2023, down from 13.6% in August and a recent high of 19.2% in March 2023, which was the highest annual rate seen for over 45 years.
The Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP) is an index which tracks the prices paid for renting property from private landlords in the UK. It includes new tenancies as well as longer-term rental agreements. For more information on the IPHRP and how the ONS are planning to make further improvements to measuring rental prices, see this article here.
The CPI is a measure of consumer price inflation. It is the preferred measure for inflation targeting and uprating state pensions and benefits. CPI is also the international standard for comparing inflation rates between countries.
The CPIH meanwhile gives added weight to the housing costs associated with owning, maintaining, and living in one's own home. CPIH also includes Council Tax. The ONS describe the CPI(H) as “the most comprehensive measure of inflation.”
Like the other price indices, the IPHRP is compiled by the ONS. It is the best available measure of housing costs in the Private Rented Sector amongst both new and existing tenants. This article, written by the ONS explains why this measure is a more complete, more robust measure of price changes in the PRS than other industry-generated measures. This paper on the IPHRP explains the lag between price changes in new tenancies and the index.
Wages & the PRS
Chart 3: A comparison between wages & rental prices
Whilst rental prices lag wider price indices (see Chart 2 above), Chart 3 shows how real wages are continuing to stagnate at a time when rental prices are increasing.
On a month-by-month basis, real wages fell for the second consecutive month – between July and August real wages fell 0.75%, since April 2023 real wages have fallen.
Year-on-year however, real wages have grown, albeit by just 0.5%. This is the fourth consecutive month in which annual wage growth has grown. This follows a run which began in April 2022 and ended in May 2023 of real wages falling year-on-year.
As the chart shows, when real wages stagnate, rents – even though they are growing below the rate of inflation – become less and less affordable: this is shown by the gap between the two charts.
More information on wages in Great Britain can be found in this ONS analysis.