Reasons to be cheerful

It’s easy to feel permanently pessimistic at the state of housing in England. 120,000 children will wake up homeless this Christmas. This is worse than last year, which was worse than the year before. Which – guess what – was worse than the year before. The range of people affected by the housing crisis stretches ever broader and more than two in five people don’t have what the public consider to be a decent home.

And yet, … Read more

Defending homeless families against illegal practice

Rising homelessness, a shortage of genuine affordable housing and housing benefits cuts are putting ever-greater pressure on local authorities to house homeless families. At Shelter we recognize the enormous pressure councils are under but cannot ignore that our legal team continue to see shocking examples of poor practice. Here, Jo Underwood, a solicitor with Shelter’s Children’s Legal Service, highlights her experiences. 

This year is the 50th anniversary of ‘Cathy Come Home,’ in which a young family finds themselves descending into … Read more

Mayor and Chancellor strike a positive deal for London

In last week’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced some very welcome increases in the affordable house building budget – as well as the great news that unfair letting agent fees would be banned. Funding programmes are always complicated things, covering several years and using multiple policy levers – such as direct grants, lending, loan guarantees, and use of public land. So it’s always important to look at the detail of how the headline numbers will actually … Read more

The long road to shifting attitudes on welfare

There is little doubt that when it comes to the question of welfare the public aren’t exactly flag waving supporters. In fact, it’s fair to say, that the current debate is so negative the previous government felt empowered to freely slash welfare spending safe in the knowledge that to do so is widely, even a little wildly, popular; they quite legitimately said they were simply doing what voters wanted.

Even with new DWP supremo, Damian Green, striking a softer tone … Read more

Letting agent fees ban is great news, but will it push up rents?

The forthcoming ban on letting fees is great news for England’s private renters. Renters have no real power to negotiate over fees and too many currently get stung with massive fees just to sign or renew a contract. This makes the impact of our unstable private rental market even worse.

But since the ban was announced there have already been claims that costs will just get shunted back onto tenants through rent increases.

This was also a hot topic when … Read more

Government bans letting agency fees

The government will ban letting agency fees in the Autumn Statement. Shelter strongly welcomes the news as a bold step forward for renters.

Update: Renters have woken up to some rare and very welcome good news. The government is going to do the bold and just thing and ban letting agent fees to tenants.

Shelter has called for a ban on letting agent fees since 2013. We were moved to act after numerous people came to us outraged … Read more

No security for just about managing families

The government has dropped plans to make higher income tenants ‘pay to stay’ in their homes, but will still press ahead with plans to introduce fixed term tenancies. 

Since this summer’s change in government, we and others in the housing sector have been awaiting confirmation of when measures in the controversial Housing and Planning Act would be introduced – if at all.

Market rents for so-called higher income tenants and fixed term tenancies were supposed to take affect from April … Read more

Renters vary across the country; government housing investment needs to as well

With the Autumn Statement looming, current funding for affordable housing is still largely reserved for Starter Homes and shared ownership. This weekend we published new research that shows that almost a third, or over 830,000, of working privately renting households would not be able to afford any of the three main ownership products based on their income.

A further 20% of working private tenants are unlikely to be able to save up enough for a deposit on a shared ownership … Read more

5 maps that show you just how bad the 2015/16 affordable housing stats are

Affordable house building fell by more than half last year, the 2015/16 statistics show. But if that wasn’t bad enough, things get even worse when you dig down into the detail and look at how this affects different parts of the country. These five maps below should help you get a comprehensive grip of quite how terrible 2015/16 was for affordable house building.

Total slump in affordable house building

The headline news – a 52% reduction in new affordable … Read more

Why should the Government improve land market transparency?

The lack of transparency in the land market is a serious barrier to building more homes in England. Shelter is calling on the Government to open up all land data held by the public sector, to let innovation flourish, allow the market to work more efficiently, and get more homes built.

All markets need good quality information to work efficiently. Without this, buyers don’t know what to bid for goods or services, and sellers don’t know what to ask. Poor … Read more

Permitted Development Rights: A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Figures on net additional dwellings

On Tuesday, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) released their latest figures on the number of net additional dwellings for 2015/16. Since 2012/13, the number of new net dwellings has been steadily increasing year-on-year – this year the figure stands at 189,650. This is encouraging (although we still have not broken 200,000 net additional dwellings in any year since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8).

 

Source: DCLG

Permitted Development Rights: What are Read more

Homelessness Reduction Bill: what is homelessness?

The Government recently announced it is supporting Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill and MPs voted the Bill through its second reading.  The legislation now has a good chance of becoming law sometime next year.  So how will it change things for families threatened with homelessness?

The Bill laudably aims to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place by placing new legal duties on local councils to assess every eligible applicant, regardless of priority need, and help those who … Read more