2013/14: the worst year for social rented house building since WW2

A number of notable things happen around the end of October: Diwali, Halloween, the clocks go back and the government publishes its annual update on affordable housing supply.

The first couple of those may provide a good excuse for a party, but this year’s affordable housing statistical release is nothing to celebrate. It is, without overstatement, a disaster.

There are two main stories that the statistics tell.

The first is that the overall level of affordable completions has fallen for … Read more

It’s affordability, stupid

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the different estimates of rent increases in the English private rented sector. Are rents going up by 1%, 5% or 7%? Hopefully that blog explained that it all depends on who you ask and exactly what you mean by your question.

What wasn’t covered was a more fundamental point: that on their own, rent inflation measures don’t actually tell you much. On their own they’re pretty academic.

A rent increase of … Read more

“Looking to avoid providing affordable housing?”

Are you a developer? Worried about pesky obligations to pay for new affordable homes eating into your profit margin?

Then you need the services of a company like this one, who – as they put it – can help you “avoid affordable housing contributions with [their] viability reports”. They claim to be able to help developers avoid such contributions for planning applications where they might eat into profit margins of anything up to a whopping 17.5%. And to prove it … Read more

Lies, damn lies and rent statistics

Here’s a quick quiz: how much are rents going up by in England?

A)   7.5% B)   1.4% C)   4.6% D)   1% E)   They’re not rising, they’re falling

It’s a tough one, but if you answered any of A, B, C, D or E then congratulations! You can make a case for being right. All five are estimates of the increasing cost of renting that have been published in the last month.

But there’s a problem, surely: they … Read more

Hit a bunker? How More or Less got it wrong on the golf stat

Avid listeners of Radio 4’s More or Less may have tuned in last week to hear their analysis of Shelter’s ‘golf stat’: the estimate that more space is dedicated in England to golf courses than houses.

In November last year, based on work by Colin Wiles, Shelter estimated that roughly 1.1% of land in England was covered by 18 hole golf courses, which is equivalent to the amount of space covered by housing. Including smaller courses and driving … Read more

How to make your house bigger than Westminster Abbey

Today’s release of the April data for the Land Registry’s House Price Index contains unsurprising news for anyone who has opened a paper or turned on the TV in the last six months. House prices are continuing to rise nationally (1.5% in the last month alone).

Despite suggestions that growth in sky-high house prices in London may be slowing down, recent jumps in house prices across the country come on the back of decades of trend growth. The recent … Read more

Right to Build. Doing what it says on the tin?

Whatever you think about the Right to Buy, it had a clear mission and a comprehensive approach to achieving it.

Much like the tagline of a popular wood stain, ‘it did exactly what it said on the tin’. For the first time any tenant living in social housing was free to purchase their home.

What’s more, there was implicit acknowledgement that a right that can’t be exercised is no right at all. Like the old argument goes, just because … Read more

Rising house prices: from poll-rating fillip to political hazard

There are few things more corrosive for a government than the perception that they are ‘out of touch’.

Whether it was the fuel duty protests during the first Blair government or the pasty tax row following the 2012 budget, when a government’s policy looks like it’s out of step with the daily experience of ordinary people then it can pose a serious threat to their legitimacy.

There may be disquiet amongst top government strategists, then, that a gap could be … Read more

Help to Buy: good for supply?

As the equity loan part of Help to Buy reaches its first birthday, and celebrates with a £6 billion extension, it’s worth reflecting on whether this flagship policy has been a success.

The equity loan has received substantially less criticism than its mortgage guarantee successor – not least from Shelter – because it is linked to housing supply by being only available on new-build homes. What ‘success’ means for Help to Buy 1, then, is both how many people it’s … Read more

Making tenancies family friendly

The Department for Communities and Local Government will soon be launching a new ‘family friendly’ model tenancy for people renting privately. The government hopes that this new model will encourage landlords to offer longer tenancies.

In 2012, Shelter called for the introduction of a new renting contract to give greater stability to the growing numbers of people who rent their homes from a private landlord. We hope that, over time, our proposal – or something like it – will replace … Read more

Double what? Self-build targets and statistics

Two and a half years after the Government announced its intention to double the number of self-built homes over a decade, it’s increasingly unclear what its target actually means.

The reason for this lack of clarity lies in the nature of both the target and self-build statistics on which it is based – as well as the way they have both been used since the ‘doubling’ pledge was first announced.

On first hearing, the target sounds clear. It has both … Read more

Revolutionising self-build: is cross-party good-will good enough?

In her first keynote speech as Shadow Housing Minister last week, Emma Reynolds was keen to throw her weight behind calls for a dramatic increase in the number of people commissioning or building their own homes. Her support is in broad accord with the parties of the Coalition and their espousal of a self-build “revolution”.

All politicians seem to agree on the basic points: that self-build is a good thing, and that the proportion of new build homes that … Read more