Government acknowledges size matters

The Government today published its proposals to review the housing standards in the hope that this will ‘free up the building industry, support growth and get high quality homes built’.  Over 100 standards currently available to local councils, such as Lifetime Homes, face abolition.

For the handful of housing standards that will be kept, councils will only be able to apply them after conducting ‘a rigorous viability and need assessment’.  While this will undoubtedly cut red tape, it’s … Read more

Guest blog: CPRE on how to get homes built
Guest blog: CPRE on how to get homes built

Polling shows that most people agree there is a housing crisis. But nearly half don’t believe that new homes are needed in their local area. When opposition blocks local development, this limits the numbers of homes available for young people and families starting out, and holds back our economy.

New Shelter evidence reveals that the size of new homes is a major factor in local concerns about development. Nearly half (44%) of the public told us they were more likely … Read more

Scrutiny of benefit bill should trigger building, not cuts

After lots of policy posturing over the last few years, Ed Miliband’s speech today set out the clearest indication yet on what a Labour government would do on welfare, a sensitive and tricky issue for the party.

The main points from the speech were that the Labour party is now going to be using the term ‘social security’ instead of ‘welfare’, they are looking into an overall cap on welfare spending, and were crystal clear that the housing benefit bill … 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

Fitting the bill

No one applauds real commitment to help renting families more loudly than us. Labour’s proposal yesterday for a housing bill to tackle rip-off fees and poor standards and give renters more security ticks a lot of Shelter boxes. Coming on top of last year’s government pledges to clamp down on rogue landlords and this month’s new legislation on letting agents it’s more welcome evidence of an emerging political consensus  on the need to tackle problems in the private rented sector.… Read more

Help to buy – who will it help?

The flavour of today’s Budget was very much helping Britain to be an ‘aspiration nation’. A cornerstone of which was about helping people achieve ‘that most human of aspirations’: owning a home.

That came with a major policy announcement: the Help to Buy scheme – a morphing and extending of existing schemes to boost ownership, NewBuy and FirstBuy.

So who does Help to Buy help then?

Help to Buy equity loan

Formerly known as FirstBuy, the Government gives … Read more

We need new homes. And some of them need to be in your back yard

We’ve been arguing for a while (since about 1966, in fact) that as a country we need to build more good quality affordable homes. Sadly, though, the last fifty years have in fact seen an almost continuous decline in the number of new homes being built.

But there are signs that there is an increasing appetite for this to change. At last year’s party conferences, David Cameron urged people to accept that ‘we need more homes in Britain’, … Read more

Let councils build – and borrow

Many voices – including Shelter’s – have been plugging the economic benefits of getting housebuilding, but two things are new about the current burst of pre-budget clamour.

Firstly, the breadth, and seniority, of the voices demanding investment has reached a new level. When the CBI, the Chambers of Commerce, a former Thatcher Government Cabinet member and even the Secretary of State for Business are all saying the same thing, all it needs now to complete the set is … Read more

We want economic growth, so how about more homes?

You might have missed Nick Clegg’s announcement on the next wave of city deals: apparently all twenty cities that applied for a city deal will now enter talks with the Government ‘on a staggered basis’, to ‘negotiate deals that give them the levers and powers they need to drive economic growth.’

OK, so this may not constitute a revolution in civic leadership, but Clegg’s convolutions do reveal an interesting tension within central government: they’re desperate to drive economic growth, but … Read more

Clegg's on the right track, but what will make garden cities work?

Nick Clegg’s speech to the National House-Builders Council (NHBC) today sends the strongest signal yet that Government are beginning to take the challenge of our housing crisis seriously.

September’s growth ‘package’ was a step forward, but the proposed numbers of new homes were not sufficient. Today, Mr Clegg acknowledges the scale of home building needed, talking in hundreds – rather than tens – of thousands.

The notion of garden cities seems to be playing well. I can see why – … Read more

Better homes for those living in them, and those looking at them

Today, RIBA’s Future Homes Commission calls for a revolution in the scale, quality and funding of home-building to fix our broken housing market.

The report’s central recommendation is for a three-fold increase in the number of new homes built every year to over 300,000, kick-started by a £10bn Local Housing Development Fund, which would be financed and owned in turn by local authority pension funds.

Just as importantly, they want the homes built in well-designed sustainable communities of mixed-tenure homes.… Read more

Labour: getting noisier on housing

It’s now five years since I first attended party conferences for my job, and I’ve noted some quite different atmospheres over the years.

The 2009 party conferences were the most striking: the quietly confident Conservative conference where champagne was strictly off limits, Labour’s failed coups and sense of impending downfall, and the pre-Cleggmania stoicism at Lib Dems. All this with the backdrop of the MPs’ expense scandal rumbling on.

Fast forward to 2012 and it’s quite a different … Read more