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

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

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

Will the NPPF deliver on affordable housing?

Today the Government finally published the detail of its new National Planning Policy Framework. It is a welcome recognition by the government that we need more homes, and building more homes is good for the economy.

During the messy row over the draft version, Shelter called for the framework to bring about the delivery of homes in the right places, of the right type and at the right price to alleviate housing need. So will it deliver genuinely affordable … Read more

A simpler benefits system – unless you're a social tenant

One of the Welfare Reform Act’s intentions, and one Shelter was happy to support, was a pledge to simplify the benefits system. In light of this it is surprising that one particular measure was allowed to survive the bill unscathed, despite being overturned twice by the Lords.

The Act will cut housing benefit for council and housing association tenants if they are judged to be occupying a larger property than they need. The definition of this is incredibly strict … 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