Guest blog: Ben Page reflects on housing as an electoral issue

There are local and mayoral elections across the United Kingdom today, so we are delighted to have a timely guest blog from the esteemed pollster Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, writing about the challenges and paradoxes of housing as a personal and political issue. Over the coming weeks we’ll be reflecting on how housing has faired in the elections where Shelter has been seeking to get housing on the political agenda. But for now, over to … Read more

Exporting homelessness

This morning was one of those moments when policy wonks start jumping up and down and shouting at the radio. This tends to happen when an issue we’ve been trying desperately to get some publicity for suddenly hits the news – usually because the bad thing we’ve been warning would happen, has happened.

It’s very frustrating to be told that a story is not news until the disaster has actually occurred. Astronomers take note – the media won’t be interested … Read more

When you're told your rent increase is not a rent increase

People can be deeply distrustful of statistics, especially when they are out of kilter with their own experiences and perceptions. It’s no surprise, then, that blogs such as FactCheck and FullFact are increasingly vital parts of the political debate.

When it’s on your own patch, a questionable stat grabs you right away. In my case it was when the Prime Minister stated at PMQs that private rents are going down. There was a collective ‘huh?’ in the office – … 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

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

Making sense of welfare reform - what does it mean?

Today the Welfare Reform Bill receives Royal Assent, almost 21 months since its measures were announced in the June 2010 Emergency Budget. Throughout, our top priority has been to ensure that housing benefit retained a link to the rents people actually pay. The power itself was buried in the middle of the bill as an opaque clause that gave the Secretary of State sweeping powers to change the way housing benefit is calculated.

Currently Local Housing Allowance – the housing … Read more

Victorian housing enjoys a renaissance

There’s a lot of neo-Victorianism around housing at the moment. It’s not just the Dickens bicentenary – although that has encouraged just about everyone to lever cheap literary references into the most improbable places.

The latest Survey of English Housing confirms that housing is trending towards the Victorian situation of more private renting and less homeownership. More and more families are now raising children in privately rented homes – something which almost died out in the late twentieth century. … Read more

London: the first to wake up to private renting?

The growth of the private rented sector and the changing demographics of people who rent from a private landlord are widely considered to be the most significant changes in the housing market in recent decades.

Almost every time I look at the national picture through the government’s English Housing Survey I find another angle that sheds further light on the growth of the sector. Most recently I realised that there were 400,000 additional households with children in the private in … Read more

Red tape challenge

Planners may not be popular right now, but they at least have some defenders, if only their own trade associations. No-one at all seems willing to stick up for regulators – the government has even launched an official Red Tape Challenge website, on which anyone can name bits of regulation that should be modified, scrapped or kept – with a presumption in favour of scrapping “burdensome” regulations.

So far this experiment in popular democracy has put paid to obligations … Read more

2012: a game changer of a year

For many in the housing world, 2012 represents the first year of a totally rewritten policy environment.

In 2011, the Government unveiled some of the most radical changes to housing policy in a generation.  The Localism Act alone including reforms to the allocation, funding and tenancy arrangements for social housing, as well as tenancy deposits for private renters and planning law, to name but a few.  DCLG have produced a handy ‘plain English’ guide to the Act outlining more about … Read more