Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

Does business have a responsibility to support its employees with housing?

This blog was originally published as part of the The Great Business Debate. Visit the website to see the original post and join the debate.

The days of employers building houses for their workforce are long gone. Purpose built developments, such as George Cadbury’s Bourneville, are consigned to the past. But today, employees need support from their employers with housing more than ever.

We are in the midst of a housing crisis. The repeated failure of governments to build … Read more

Help to Buy is not the answer to building enough homes

Help to Buy is this government’s biggest intervention to date in the housing market and ministers often portray it as a major part of their answer to the housing shortage. However our analysis shows that this approach cannot deliver enough homes to meet need. The only way it could is if the average price of a home in England reached an astonishing and implausible £9 million.

Let me explain.

The current – and orthodox – thinking is that the supply … Read more

Policy merry-go-round on either side of the Atlantic

Last week, we saw on either side of the Atlantic two starkly contrasting responses to post-credit crunch financial policy. In the US, President Obama firmly rejected the politics of old. Never again would the US taxpayer be first be in line to cover the cost of failing mortgages or underwrite loans the market considers too risky. Instead, he wants to see the private sector take on more of the risk as he winds down the two mortgage giants, Fannie … Read more

Britain’s housing shortage: coming to a swing seat near you?

Rising home ownership was once a staple of post-war prosperity. The increasing number of people owning their own home underpinned not only a burgeoning middle class, but a broader sense of optimism about the future.

A basic kind of social contract also emerged: if you worked hard and saved, you could eventually own a home. Today, while private renting remains so insecure and unaffordable, the stability of home ownership will obviously continue to be attractive for many.

Unfortunately, this social … Read more

Help to who? Can it help the 'right' people?

Blimey. I’m quite used to my policy ideas being roundly abused by one set of people or another – in fact it’s not a bad test of an idea’s salience: if no-one at all is outraged it’s probably a non-starter.

But I’m not sure I can remember a policy that has attracted quite such a thorough a kicking as George Osborne’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.

We’ve always argued that profligate lending to struggling households desperate to get on … Read more

The power of buy to let

Figures out from the Council of Mortgage Lenders today show that buy to let mortgage lending – mortgages for landlords buying property to rent out – has reached a record high. Now £1 in every £8 of mortgage lending goes to buy to let.

The appeal is obvious. It feels like every week a news story goes out reporting rising rents. And, as research by Jones Lang LaSalle found, many subscribe to the “small island” theory – that … Read more

The interest only timebomb

One of the big advantages of owning a home is that one day you’ll have paid for it outright. You’ll have no housing costs, no debt, full security of tenure; a few less things to worry about in old age.

But what if all that time you weren’t actually paying off your mortgage – you were just paying the interest on the debt? There are 2.6 million people in Britain with interest only mortgages, and comprehensive new research by the … Read more

Time for a sea change among buy-to-let lenders?

England’s rapidly growing private rented sector isn’t playing the role it was set up to play.

When you hear that a third of renters are families with children, or that as many as four in ten renters receive some housing benefit to pay their rent, it becomes clear that the image of renters as students and mobile young professionals is very out of date.

Last week this tension between perception and reality hit the headlines, with reports that Nationwide had … Read more

Would a mansion tax really be anti-aspiration?

As often happens on Sunday mornings, I hazily grab my phone, look at Twitter, and spot an interesting new idea that a politician or think tank has floated to deal with an aspect of our housing crisis.

This weekend it was the Mail on Sunday leaking wealth tax ideas from a Liberal Democrat internal consultation paper to be discussed at their forthcoming Spring Conference. The main proposal was for assets – particularly property assets – worth more than £2m to … Read more

Housing: the real big squeeze

The Shelter campaign that seems to have stuck in people’s minds the most in recent years was the one setting out what the cost of household goods would be if their prices had gone up at the same rate as house prices.

I most recently heard it mentioned by Planning Minister Nick Boles when he launched another new planning policy to encourage development.

We’ve re-run the analysis – a whole chicken would now cost £51.18, and the average weekly Read more

At risk: one home in every street

Losing your home is one of the most traumatic things imaginable. At Shelter, we have always known this – but even we were shocked when recent research we commissioned from UCL showed that people consider losing their home almost on a par with the abduction of a child by a family member.

And the loss of a family home can have a devastating impact on children. This Christmas, 75,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless, living in temporary … Read more