Housing: a clear priority for the Liberal Democrats

This week in stormy Brighton there were many anxious discussions about what the Liberal Democrat Party stands for in 2012, but remarkable consensus on the importance of a decent, affordable home. From coffee bar to conference hall, housing came out as a clear priority with strong support from both local activists and prominent politicians.

The Shelter and Fujitsu joint fringe event at the beginning of the week asked the panel what three arguments the Party will need to make in … Read more

We need to talk solutions as well as problems with renting

We’ve had a warm reaction to our proposals for better renting over the last week. It’s a real testament to policy makers’ and the industry’s acknowledgement of the world we live in – one in which millions of people on ordinary incomes cannot get the stability from their home that they need to plan for the future.

There is now increasing agreement that something must be done – that the political, social and economic consequences of leaving so many people … Read more

When is a region not a Region?

As part of an ongoing effort to remove the regional government framework, Eric Pickles has announced that the Department for Communities and Local Government will no longer be publishing regional level statistics.

The arguments for and against this course of action are well-rehearsed and I do not intend to repeat them here (although you can read Shelter’s response to the consultation on this subject).

However this decision does raise a few issues.

The Department will include statistics for Local Enterprise Read more

Our proposal: a better deal for renters

It’s not news to readers of this blog that we’re concerned about how private renting is working for people with no other options open to them.

Some 8.5 million people now rent from a private landlord – more than live in social housing. People on average incomes who would have been able to buy a home a decade ago will take a lot longer to realise that aspiration.

Over the last year we’ve looked at how renting is working – … Read more

Renters: unregistered and unrepresented?

It’s the time of year when my council sends round letters to check that we’re registered to vote. Happily, I’ve been renting my flat for a while and confirmed our names on the register with minimal fuss.

As the political world gears up for a by-election in Corby and a Bill on electoral reform wings its way through Parliament, the letter did get me thinking about how many of my neighbours – a somewhat transient bunch – had done the … Read more

UC and U-turns: when to start worrying about Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) used to proudly claim Universal Credit (UC) was the biggest change to the welfare state in over 60 years. Attention is now increasingly focused on the department’s ability to deliver a scheme to justify the rhetoric. Are these soaring ambitions beginning to feel more like albatrosses round the neck of ministers?

Labour has been claiming for months that rollout will slip and has now called for the DWP to delay the launch by Read more

Why the UK isn’t Spain…

Sure, sure we’re not as good at football or sunny weather as our Iberian neighbours. Here, I’ll argue that our property markets are pretty different too, and that the Spanish example of a devastating property meltdown, partly precipitated by over-building, shouldn’t put us off building more badly needed homes in this country.

We need more homes. That’s not a totally straightforward statement – yes there are some empty homes that could be better used, and no, more homes alone … Read more

Back to school: the new political season

September – chillier, windier, busier – is traditionally a time for a refresh. Having had the summer to reflect on how things have gone, our politicians traditionally use the return to Parliament to set out a rejuvenated course for the coming months. Summer 2012 was exceptional in every sense, and the Prime Minister used the moment to really shake up his ministerial teams.

It’s all change for housing policy. Our new team of ministers have been in post for a … Read more

Time to talk legacy?

There’s bound to be some stiff competition to get into Private Eye’s Olympicballs column this week – but let’s give it a go….

It’s still unfashionable to be sceptical about the likelihood of a legacy for the games, but let’s not forget that the original vision behind London’s bid for the Olympics was about regenerating a huge swathe of the ex-industrial east end, and providing tonnes of new homes in shiny new neighbourhoods.

So as the celebrations finish and … Read more

Guest blog: Reshuffles, ‘dither’ and nimbyism

New ministers and a fresh new package of announcements – it’s been an exciting couple of days in the housing world, although I was saddened to see that the PM and DPM didn’t don hard hats and high-vis vests this morning, as is customary when announcing anything to do with house building…

Here, our guest blogger Ben Marshall of Ipsos MORI takes a closer at the politics and public opinions behind the recent announcements, and asks whether the culture of … Read more

Fresh ideas but is it enough?

We’ve been waiting for the government’s big housing announcement ever since one was apparently pulled from the budget for not being bold enough. What finally emerged this morning certainly had some boldness in it, if not the radicalism that some had expected.

There was nothing on weakening green belt restrictions, and some stuff about allowing homeowners to build extensions without planning permission which may raise a few hackles – but there was new money for additional affordable home building, … Read more

Nightmare letting agent stories

At Shelter we regularly come across letting agent nightmare stories.

We’ve heard of tenants being charged £100 just to view a property. Of non-refundable admin fees of £540, and of renters and landlords being double charged for exactly the same service.

In fact, nearly 11 million people have been charged an unfair fee by a letting agent according to a recent YouGov poll for Shelter – that’s 1 in 4 people in Great Britain. Furthermore, three quarters of renters … Read more