Guest Blog: Renting is the only game in town

There are signs all around that the housing market is changing. I’ve lost count of conversations with friends about how they’d like to buy a place but just can’t. When I walk down my local high street I see a huge number of estate agents but not a lot of choice: homes that are either crazy expensive or have ‘NO DSS!’ signs emblazoned in the windows.

Here, our guest blogger – the excellent Kathleen Kelly – reflects on two pieces … Read more

To buy or not buy?

What with me leading Shelter’s policy work on the future of the private rented sector, it was a surprise to my colleagues when I told them I was buying a flat. ‘That’s it, you’re out of the private rented sector!’ was Toby’s response.

The thing is, I am fed up with renting. I hate the magnolia walls in my flat, the worn laminate floors, the slope in the kitchen that means the cooker is wonky and one side of … Read more

Some reason to celebrate

Among a number of pre-Jubilee announcements made yesterday, the Government quietly published the long-awaited draft regulations on the suitability of private rented accommodation offered to homeless people.

The Localism Act 2011 will soon allow councils to offer a twelve month private letting to homeless households in order to discharge their duty to provide a settled home. During the passage of the bill, parliamentarians and organisations like Shelter and Crisis argued that, given the poor quality of much private rented housing … Read more

A time for ambitious thinking?

As a new joiner to Shelter’s policy team I’ve already been introduced to some interesting ideas about how we can make housing more affordable, better quality and get a better deal for the growing numbers of private tenants. The policy team is not short of solutions to the many failings of our housing market – as the many postings on this blog prove.

I’ve recently moved across from a political office, which included working on some manifesto ideas for London’s … Read more

Is it better to invest in bricks or benefits?

The Housing Minister recently tweeted that the housing benefit debate is “misinformed” by claims the budget is being cut, when spending is in fact forecast to resume its upward trend after next year’s cuts have bitten.

This may be a deeply disingenuous argument – the Minister knows full well that the amounts paid out to individual households are falling – but it does highlight an important point: despite a £2 billion package of cuts the overall housing benefit budget will … Read more

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

Tough challenges for the next Mayor of London

As officials count the votes from London’s mayoral election, reports suggest that it’s simply too close to call, and we don’t know yet who will be celebrating (or commiserating) over the Bank Holiday weekend.

But whoever London’s next Mayor is, they will have to sober up to the realities facing the capital, in particular those around housing.

We’ve heard some big pledges from the candidates. All of them backed Shelter’s campaign, stating that they’ll create Homes for London, … Read more

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