Fresh ideas but is it enough?

We’ve been waiting for the government’s big housing announcement ever since one was apparently pulled from the budget for not being bold enough. What finally emerged this morning certainly had some boldness in it, if not the radicalism that some had expected.

There was nothing on weakening green belt restrictions, and some stuff about allowing homeowners to build extensions without planning permission which may raise a few hackles – but there was new money for additional affordable home building, … Read more

We must spend less on housing

The news has been worryingly free of house price stories of late, forcing some papers to fill pages with minor distractions like the Olympics, Leveson and the great summer weather.

Thankfully the IMF has come to the rescue of editors everywhere, with its annual report on the UK economy suggesting that house prices still need to fall by 10-15% now-ish – and by up to 30% to get back to trend.

Inevitably, the response from some quarters will be for … 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

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

Learn to love planning

No-one likes planners. Developers think of them as meddling bureaucrats at best, and Stalinist naysayers at worst. Some people resent them for being a barrier to economic growth. A minority hate planners for not allowing enough homes to be built – while simultaneously a majority seem to hate them for allowing homes to be built. Astonishingly, at the peak of the housing bubble in 2007, one in four households opposed a planning application that year. It seems we really … 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