White Paper or white flag?

The forthcoming White Paper is a huge opportunity to tackle the dysfunctional  housebuilding system. Following Shelter’s recommendations for bold reform would show that the government means business.

The government is due to publish a long awaited White Paper on housebuilding in the next few weeks. There is clearly an intense debate within Whitehall about how bold any reform should be – and some reports are suggesting that earlier plans for radical reform are being watered down to prevent a backlash … Read more

Land banking: what’s the story? (part 2)

As we saw in the first part of this blog, land banking is a normal part of development but it’s not a simple story. The big developers certainly own and control a huge amount of land which could be used for housing. There are also land trading companies that don’t build homes but land bank purely to cream off profits. However, the housebuilders are right to say that to a large extent they need to hold a future pipeline … Read more

Land banking: what’s the story? (part 1)

At Shelter we argue consistently that the best long term solution to England’s housing crisis is to increase housebuilding: especially homes which are affordable for low earners to rent or buy. So when it seems that developers are sitting on land – often with planning permission – and not building homes, this frustrates us as much as anyone.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has repeatedly drawn attention to the large and growing stock of unbuilt plots with planning permission (nearly … Read more

‘Buy as you go’ homes

‘Buy as you go’ homes are a new idea for affordable housing which is being worked up by the National Housing Federation (NHF), with the government already showing an interest. While more detailed plans may be launched later in the year, there’s enough already for us to get a sense of what it might be.

The concept is quite simple: you pay a monthly rent with no huge upfront deposit and, over time, some of your rent goes towards … Read more

Why Evan Davies understands the housing crisis

On Newsnight last night there was an interesting debate about housing and homelessness. It was prompted by tonight’s BBC2 documentary which follows a London council’s helplessness in finding places for its homeless families to live. There were great points made by all the participants; including Jon Sparkes from Crisis and campaigner Poppy Noor – who has experienced the homelessness system herself.

However the point that struck me most was actually made by the presenter Evan Davies. He said:

“People who, … Read more

Can the new government’s housing plans deliver?

Today the new Chancellor and new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government have starting to set out their housebuilding plans. We consider whether the plans are sufficient to build the affordable homes we desperately need. 

Just below the inevitable din about Brexit, it’s been notable that housing has also been an important talking point at the Conservative Party’s conference. This shouldn’t be hugely surprising given that housing is still a top-five issue for voters: above education, crime and … Read more

‘Renewal’ outlines huge opportunity for Conservatives on housing

One (rare) thing that everyone agrees on after Brexit is that it shone a spotlight on millions of people in England who feel left behind. As the new Prime Minister put it:

“I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

While not the full story, housing is … Read more

How to buck a Brexit slowdown and build 1m homes

Come May 2020 what will Theresa May’s government look back on with pride and what will it look back on with regret?  Depending on the choices made at this early stage housing has the potential to fall squarely into either the ‘pride’ or ‘regret’ column. At Shelter, in our 50th year, we want housing to become a source of pride for our country, not a chronic weakness.

Today we’ve published a new paper looking at how the government can meet … Read more

Help to Buy ISA: the real scandal

Over the weekend the Telegraph reported that there is a Help to Buy ISA “scandal” because “first-time buyers will not be able to use it on an initial deposit on their new home”. As you’d expect, this prompted an angry reaction from some of the 500,000 people who’ve taken out an ISA in the hope of using the government’s bonus towards their deposit. But is this all as scandalous as it sounds?

The Help to Buy ISA

The Help to … Read more

Affordable housing: “affordable for who”?

Every time I hear the term “affordable housing” being used – whether in a conversation with friends, family, Shelter clients or in a focus group – the same comment is always made: “yes, but affordable for who…?”* Usually, the phrase is accompanied by a rolling of the eyes, or a shaking of the head.

Most of us who care about housing would agree with the sentiment that a lot of so-called “affordable” homes just aren’t. However it’s also vital that … Read more

Falling homeownership won’t be stopped by current schemes

Home-ownership is now at its lowest for 30 years, according to new analysis by the Resolution Foundation. This matters because the vast majority of people want the security of owning – both financially and because it gives longer term stability for families than private renting.

Homeownership looks likely to keep falling when you dig below the numbers and look at the proportion of buyers with mortgages, versus those who are mortgage free. The majority of homeowners are now older … Read more

Will Brexit hit house building?

Nobody yet knows whether the decision to leave the EU will lead to an immediate downturn in the housing market. But you don’t have to look hard to see signs.

House builders’ share prices have been among the hardest hit, commercial property funds have suspended trading, REITS (investment products linked to property) are falling in value, housing associations have had credit ratings downgraded and forward indicators of construction activity have nosedived.

Equally importantly, there are signs … Read more