At the General Election in June, Labour won a majority of the votes of the under-40s. This was a wake-up call for the Conservative Party, many of whose members are now filled with a new urgency to address this cohort's biggest concerns - including a rather large house-shaped one.
Their annual conference has duly been bursting with new housing policies, particularly for private renters. But while they are (for the most part) improvements, the proposals fail to address the urgency of the housing crisis.Read more
The biggest talking point of Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour Party conference this week was rent controls. Since 2014 Labour has been proposing to limit rises in rents during tenancies, but there was something different this time around.
This is what the Labour leader said on Wednesday:
We will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable. Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.
Well, the Housing White Paper was a massive disappointment. After an exciting glimpse on Sunday of moves to "incentivise" longer tenancies, on Tuesday it became clear that those incentives were existing government subsidies for companies building new homes. Number of beneficiaries: 80,322 (not counting the companies who would have offered longer tenancies anyway).
For the 4.3 million households in existing properties? The vague undertaking to "consider what more we can do to support families already renting privately, while encouraging continued investment in the sector." Which gives little hope to people who don't live with their family and a lot of hope to property speculators.Read more
As the publication date for the government's Housing White Paper approaches, we and groups across the the housing world are hoping for an announcement that will signal a 'whole new mindset', as the Secretary of State has promised.
One item that will be included is confirmation of how the government's long-running Starter Homes policy will work - and the detail will tell us how far it will go towards slowing the affordability crisis for first-time buyers. This is the government's flagship policy that was pitched as "turning Generation Rent into Generation Buy".Read more
Would you like to take control of your area and create permanently affordable homes?
The Community Land Trust Network, supported by the Oak Foundation, is offering 20 grants of up to £10,000 each to support the set up or development of new CLTs in urban areas. CLTs are volunteer-led, community-run non-profit organisations that develop permanently affordable homes, workspaces or other land-based assets in their area. In addition to the cash grant, the CLT Network is also offering a package of training, advice and other support to the 20 winners.
Yesterday I was asked a surprisingly difficult question. I was asked what I thought of charities and local authorities setting up "ethical" letting agencies. The fact is I haven't given huge amounts of thought to it - though our office is maintaining a watching brief on their activities and seeing what can be learnt.
So I had to retreat to an instinctive (and unpopular) no. It seems inconceivably that the state or non-profit sector could or should compete in this space cost effectively. We're glad they do so as they are a rare respite for people who are routinely exploited, but on being scrutinised on the issue, I just couldn't see how they could be scaled to have a beneficial impact for millions of people.
I have had a think now, and while I did so fully prepared to explain why I had been wrong and have changed my mind, I haven't. I really don't think such projects are a solution to the letting agency problem. But as a representative of a tenant advocacy group, this does bear some explaining.Read more
The government insists that it’s doing all it can to end the housing crisis by ramping up the rate of house building. So far it’s managed a modest bump, but earlier this week, we learned that it's forecasting another dip in 2014/15.
At a time when we need to double house building to keep rents and house prices affordable, to think that the government could allow a fall like this is staggering.
The Labour Party is calling a debate on the issue in Parliament next Wednesday, 9th July, to examine what has gone wrong and what can be done to boost supply.