Keeping tabs on housing

I’ve whinged far too often about the fact that housing never seems to get the political attention it deserves. This is partly to do with the way housing shows up in polls – as Ipsos MORI’s Ben Page spelled out here recently. Although every MP’s post bag is full of their constituents’ housing problems, these problems are experienced by each family as theirs alone – and are treated accordingly by politicians.

But politics seems to be finally waking up … Read more

The mortgage headache continues

Today’s arrears and repossessions figures confirm that we’re in our fourth consecutive year of high levels of home repossessions. It’s a worrying sign of how difficult economic conditions are – and of just how precarious so many people’s finances are. Sadly, thousands of people losing their homes is only part of the story. There are more than 150,000 households in serious arrears, i.e. more than three months behind on their mortgage payments.

The overall number of people in serious arrears … Read more

New ideas to fix London's housing

Much celebration here at Shelter HQ, as both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have now backed our Mayoral election campaign and pledged to create Homes for London.

As the race enters its last week it is clearly a Ken-Boris contest, so it’s easy to ignore the other candidates, which is a shame, as they have done a lot to finally get housing onto the agenda. Both the Greens’ Jenny Jones and the Lib Dems’ Brian Paddick have backed Homes … Read more

Big houses and baby boomers

Baby boomers have had a bit of an image problem lately. The ‘boomer’ generation born in the post-war period is (by and large) prospering after a prolonged period of economic growth (data geeks might want to refer to this (£) fascinating graph by the FT).

Younger generations, meanwhile, are increasingly fed up: fewer good jobs and pensions, and an unaffordable housing market that holds them back.*

It’s almost universally acknowledged that soaring house prices played a major role … Read more

Finding a place to call home

One evening last week, a few of us from the Policy and Campaigns division made a little expedition to RIBA’s ‘A place to call home’ exhibition.

It was refreshing to get out the office and away from the coalface of the housing crisis that occupies most of our time and thinking. The exhibition focused on the wider social and emotional history of homes in Britain – why home is so important, what people want to make a good home, how … Read more

Boom, bust and the West Wing

Toby’s been referencing Dickens in his recent blog post, so here goes with another policy lovers favourite cultural reference; the West Wing. The fictional US leader President Jed Bartlet was renowned for his economic expertise and prudence. But looking back now, he was, like most other people, somewhat optimistic about the state of the economy and about housing in particular. “Home-ownership levels are higher than they’ve ever been!” he would merrily retort at critics of his policies.

Sadly, the state … Read more

Into the mainstream: property taxation on the agenda

A key (and much trailed) feature of the Chancellor’s budget today was the introduction of higher stamp duty rates for properties worth more than £2 million. Let’s call it ‘mansion tax lite’. The coalition will also be clamping down on stamp duty avoidance, raising stamp duty even higher for foreign owners of high value homes, and consulting on an annual tax of 15% for certain ‘non-natural persons’ buying mansions. (Non-natural persons is a bit of a funny phrase, … Read more

NewBuy: what’s the alternative?

As the hype around the government’s NewBuy scheme rumbles on, it’s worth pausing for a moment to contemplate why owning a home is such a national obsession, and consequently, why politicians always look to home ownership when they want to deliver a package that plays to the aspirations of Middle England.

To my mind, the real question is: what is the alternative to owning a home? For an increasing number of middle-income families their only option is to rent … Read more

From 'fatally flawed' to 'common sense'

Mortgage regulation might not sound like the most exciting topic, but it’s vitally important. The way in which banks lend money has a huge impact on house prices, social mobility, even homelessness.

In recent years the devastating impact reckless lending can have on people’s lives has been all too clear. You have to borrow a lot of money to get a foot on the housing ladder and if you can’t afford to pay it back, you may face losing your … Read more