While you were away

Not everything stops for Christmas and New Year. I’ve just written a post for Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing, on what’s happened in housing over the break.

The post features government guidance on housing allocations for local people, a House of Commons Library note on housing supply, an FT report on David Cameron’s fading interest in garden cities, a 5 Live programme on the housing market in 2014, James Meek’s London Review of Books essay on housing plus the latest on the bedroom tax.

Read more here.


Paying the price

All those high earners with social tenancies seem to be slowly melting away ahead of the government’s plan to implement ‘pay to stay’ market rents.

I’m not just talking about the impact of the policy itself and the incentive for tenants to declare an income of £59,999 or even to cut the number of hours they work to get out of paying a market rent for their homes.

Rather I’m talking about the government’s own estimates of the number of high earners. When the policy was first floated at the Conservative Party conference in October 2011, the Telegraph was briefed that there were 6,000 ‘fat cat’ tenants earning more than £100,000 a year.

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing


Buy, buy, buy

The first part of my analysis of Margaret Thatcher’s housing legacy looks at the right to buy and the property-owning democracy.

The death of the former prime minister got me thinking in what I hope is a dispassionate way about what her time in office meant to housing.

What seems to be undeniable is that the right to buy represented a sea change. Many people would nominate British Gas or British Airways or BT as her greatest privatisation but council housing was bigger than any of them. Some 1.5 million homes were sold between 1979 and 1990 (500,000 of those between 1979 and 1983). Capital receipts from the right to buy totalled £17.6 billion between 1979 and 1989 compared to £23.5 billion from all the other privatisations put together.

It is the one housing policy that is being mentioned in all of the obituaries and hagiographies in the national media but the truth about Thatcher and the right to buy is more complex that you might think.

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing


Local priority

David Cameron’s speech about social housing and immigration today demonstates yet again the gap between perception and reality on the issue.

The prime minister says he wants to introduce an ‘expectation’ that local authorities will introduce a local residency test determining who should qualify for social housing:

‘New migrants should not expect to be given a home on arrival. And yet at present almost one in ten new social lettings go to foreign nationals. So I am going to introduce new statutory housing allocations guidance this spring to create a local residence test. This should mean that local people rightly get priority in the social housing system. And migrants will need to have lived here and contributed to this country for at least two years before they can qualify.’

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing


Osborne’s choice

Here’s my take on the four key questions for housing coming out of the Budget so far.

1) Is Osborne just blowing bubbles? There are sound reasons why the government might want to help people buy new homes or help first-time buyers get mortgages. The equity loan and mortgage guarantee schemes under Help to Buy are extensions of the existing FirstBuy and NewBuy schemes.

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing


The rise of the property-owning plutocracy

If you had to think of one article of faith for the Conservative Party, a property-owning democracy would come pretty close to the top of the list.

David Cameron reached back to the idea in his ‘magic money tree’ speech yesterday:

‘It is important that people who work hard and do the right thing are able to buy a home. As I said in my party conference speech – it is a rebuke to those of us who believe in property owning democracy that the average age for someone buying their first home today, without any help from their parents is 33 years old. And we are determined to tackle that.’

The prime minister was clearly hinting at something to come either in the Budget or the housing announcement he’s planning just before it. Whether that’s a new stamp duty holiday, or an extension to FirstBuy or even perhaps making existing homes eligible for NewBuy remains to be seen.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sales pitch

So how is it going so far for two ‘ambitious schemes’ that we were told would ‘unlock the aspirations of a new generation of home buyers’?

It was March 2012 when David Cameron and Grant Shapps launched NewBuy and the ‘reinvigorated’ Right to Buy 2. ‘This government doesn’t just talk about expanding home ownership: we’re making it happen,’ said the prime minister.

Even as he was speaking it all seemed a tad ambitious. No wonder, when theEnglish Housing Survey has just shown that home ownership fell again in 2011/12.

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing


Vanishing act

One of the stats most often quoted by Grant Shapps is that the social rented housing stock shrank by 421,000 homes under Labour. The real question is how much it will shrink under him.

The housing minister quoted the figure again this week when he was interviewed on the Today programme on Wednesday about the affordable housing figures (for more on them see my blog for Inside Housing here). His use of statistics is much discussed but on this particular one he’s right: social housing disappeared under Labour as right to buy and demolitions outnumbered construction of new homes. What he did not mention was that roughly twice as many homes disappeared under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997.

Read the rest of this entry »


On repeat

First it was a revolution, then a reboot. Now it is a relaunch and a revamp.

The language has shifted considerably since David Cameron made the right to buy a key part of the ‘housing revolution’ he pledged in his Conservative conference speech in October.

Read the rest of this post at Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing. 


BOGOF to BOBOF

I’m never quite sure about those ‘buy one, get one free’ offers in the supermarket. So can I really believe in ‘buy one, build one free’?

My local Shapps & Cameron hyperstore is offering me a ‘rebooted’ right to buy. Is it like it sounds – a desperate attempt of a 21st century marketeer to rebrand a tired old product from the 1980s as something exciting and new – or is there something in it?

Read the rest of this post on my blog at Inside Housing.


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