There’s been a real change in the way the government is talking about housing investment over the last week. Is it just talk or more than that?
Several days out of news and twitter contact have left me catching up with what seems a noticeable change in tone from the Lib Dem side of the government.
Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing
One of the more obvious hostages in fortune in the coalition agreement was always going to be the pledge to stick to the commitment to end child poverty by 2020.
Abandoning the legally-binding targets set by the Labour government would have sent out all the wrong signals (especially for the Lib Dems) from the outset of the coalition. Yet even as the pledge was being made it was obvious that the government’s austerity measures were going to make child poverty worse rather than better.
If you missed Britain’s Hidden Homeless last night it’s well worth making time to catch on iPlayer.
The BBC documentary was presented by Speech Debelle, the Mercury-prize winning rapper with personal experience of what she was talking about. She spent three years sofa surfing and in hostels after falling out with her mum at 19 and wrote the opening song of what went on to be her prize-winning first album while in a hostel.
So this was far more than the standard celeb-fronted BBC3 documentary. You believed her when she said that hidden homelessness is three times bigger than the official figures suggest and that things are worse now than they were for her ten years ago.
Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing.
Grant Shapps has predictably had a go but it’s hard to see the housebuilding figures out today as anything other than awful.
The housing minister tweeted that housing starts in 2011 were up 29 per cent on 2009. Curiously, though, he did not mention the figures that had just been published for the first quarter of 2012.
Read the rest of this post on my blog for Inside Housing.
With (depending on your point of view) neat or cruel irony the number of part-time employees hit a record high within hours of them being identified as a major target for a second round of welfare reform.
Official figures published on Wednesday morning confirmed that unemployment fell by 45,000 to 2.63 million people and the number of people in work rose by 105,000. However, within that total the number of people working part-time because they cannot find full-time work rose to a record high of 1.4 million. There are now eight million part-time employees and 4.2 million self-employed people – both the highest numbers since records began in 1992.
Another quarter, another big milestone for buy to let. The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reveal some startling facts about the growth of loans to landlords.
The boom in buy to let is usually associated with the mid-2000s: the number of BTL mortgages rose from 120,000 in 2000 to more than a million in 2007. Then lending slumped after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers. By 2010 Fergus and Judith Wilson, the ex-teachers who went on to buy 700 homes, were pronouncing that the sector was ‘absolutely dead and will never return’.
Two years on and the corpse is back to life with a vengeance. BTL lending for house purchase is running 30 per cent ahead of levels seen a year ago (although down 9 per cent on the fourth quarter). As the CML points out, new lending to landlords is still around a third of 2007 levels, but that disguises the underlying trend.
In the wake of the local election results it would be easy to conclude that housing does not count as a political issue. Easy but wrong.
Londoners elected the one candidate for mayor (Boris Johnson) who was promising to do least with new powers on housing (though he did at least pledge to create Homes for London). Voters in cities other than Bristol rejected the chance to have an elected mayor who could be in a position to demand the same and to take a strategic view of housing in their area.
And one of the gurus of opinion polling, Ben Page of Ipsos Mori, had this to say in a blog for Shelter last week:
‘Sadly this is one of those issues where there does not appear to be any happy ending anytime soon – and certainly not due to any election outcome in the UK. For organisations like Shelter, the challenge is to re-frame and re-articulate housing as the kind of mass issue that gets high profile coverage in an election campaign. And that is no mean feat.’