Tag Archives: council housing

Vince Cable outlines pragmatic steps to boost housing supply.

In a keynote speech today (below, in full) Vince Cable analyses the failures of the housing market in terms of the poor incentives to developers and banks, and the effect of the planning system, and offers some pragmatic solutions to boost supply and tackle the shortage of housing that is pricing many young people out of homes altogether.

The text below is quite long but you can use these links to jump straight to the analysis of the housing market, building for social rent, the compulsory purchase of housing land for affordable housing, existing stock, comments on the green belt, and homelessness.

Also reported in the Guardian.

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Housing – where should it go?

I’ve been doing some research into housing as it has become a hot topic in Oxfordshire where I am a county councillor.

Young people want to get on the property ladder but can’t, houses are just not affordable.

Keyworkers wish to take jobs but can’t afford to live locally.

Our social housing register in Oxford city has over 3000 people on it.

There is a housing crisis, but it won’t be solved by landowners building houses which can only be afforded by London commuters.

At the same time, government is pushing for growth in the south – we have a Growth Board in Oxfordshire which comprises all the district, city and county councils, and we have just signed a Growth Deal with government which commits us to building 96K homes in Oxfordshire up to 2031.

But shouldn’t we be growing our economy in the north? The country is already unbalanced, and it will become even more so if plans to build a million more houses along the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Arc proceed. The National Infrastructure Commission report on that proposal is here. On p. 28 there is a chart showing housing planned for 2016-2050: 130K extra houses for Oxfordshire as “additional development required to meet corridor-level housing need”, plus another 70K homes for Oxfordshire required “to reflect pressures from land constrained
markets”.

To get my head around this topic, I’ve been looking at recent government data on where houses need to go across the country as a whole. It includes economic growth and population analysis. Evidently, we don’t need as many houses in Oxfordshire as the last Strategic Housing Market Assessment of 2014 shows. However, all local plans are using the SHMA figures, not latest government figures.

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Margaret Thatcher, the 1983 election and the ‘bedroom tax’

margaret-thatcherLike Caron, I spent more than a healthy amount of my Bank Holiday Monday watching BBC Parliament’s re-run of the 1983 general election.

It’s not an election I remember (I was 6). But the symmetry of yesterday’s hyperbolic Guardian (‘The day Britain changed’) front page and the televised reminder of Margaret Thatcher’s first landslide seemed calculated to confirm the left’s view that 1st April 2013 marked the ultimate victory of those on the right who wanted (and still want) to destruct the welfare state.

What Mrs T, Geoffrey Howe …

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Benefit caps and central London: how many children will be moving school?

Many Liberal Democrats I’ve spoken to have mixed feelings about the proposed benefit cap and some of the housing benefit changes. On the one hand, they have very little sympathy with the complaints of people such as Frank Dobson that rule changes means he wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in his council flat. Count me in the camp who doesn’t think council housing should be used to let ex-ministers with decades of salary earning that puts them amongst the best paid in the country and with membership of a decent pension scheme live in one of London’s most …

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Opinion: The housing policy jigsaw – the changing picture

I started this discussion of current developments in policy towards housing by noting that it is an area in which the tensions in inherent in balancing “the fundamental values of freedom, equality and community” are absolutely central. Housing policy needs to strike a balance between the individual and the aggregate – neighbourhood, city, regional – outcomes if it is going to deliver economically and socially (and environmentally) successful settlements. In this last post I will reflect briefly on changes in where this balance has been struck over time.

In the post-Second World War period housing policy was directed at improving …

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Opinion: The housing policy jigsaw – a picture begins to emerge?

In yesterday’s post I set out key policy developments affecting housing. So what can we discern about the current government’s approach to housing?

For a start there is a continuing emphasis upon choice. This is particularly clear when discussing how to encourage underoccupying social renters to move. The CLG rhetoric is of increasing choice and making choices easier to realise. They neglect to cross-refer to the DWP proposals to cut the housing benefit of any social renter deemed to be seriously underoccupying. The approach isn’t all “carrot”.

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) proposals more generally are framed in terms of housing …

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Opinion: The housing policy jigsaw – identifying the pieces

Yesterday, I suggested that it would be valuable to piece together the housing policy jigsaw in order to reflect on the picture that emerges. Policy in this field speaks directly to our fundamental values -freedom, equality and community – and how they are to be reconciled. My aim today is to identify more fully the key pieces of the current policy jigsaw.

So what can we make of the way policy towards housing is developing?

The key proposals on social housing reform in the Local Decisions consultation paper were heavily trailed. Many are embodied in the Localism Bill. They have been …

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Opinion: Piecing together the housing policy jigsaw

The Coalition government is seemingly intent upon drowning us in a blizzard of consultation papers, green papers, white papers, and hasty legislation. No doubt there is also a bit of kite flying taking place for good measure. One problem with all this activity is keeping track of overlapping agendas. How do we sum the parts in a way that allows us to get a sense of the likely cumulative impact of change?

One area in which this is particularly acute is housing. Policy which impacts upon housing and the housing market sits with a number of government departments. Housing policy and …

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Adrian Sanders writes… The cap that doesn’t fit

People outside of London who cannot afford to buy a home or meet their rent without help from the benefit system are missing out in the current debate on the capping of Housing Benefit.

The housing benefit bill doubled under Labour but it wasn’t because of an increase in claimants, it was because Labour failed to ensure enough regulated rent social housing was built for the increasing numbers of people who could not and cannot afford to buy.

The problem didn’t start under Labour; it began in the early 80’s. The ratio between wages and house prices rose at the same …

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Opinion: Are there no workhouses? Our skewed housing benefit debate

This recent debate about housing benefit has been explosive, with anger and froth expelled by both sides of the debate. And with Christmas coming, I can’t help feeling that there are many out there whose approach to housing the poor is somewhat Scrooge-like. ‘Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?’ they are almost asking.

Housing benefit reform is a tricky beast, no doubt, as the most outrageous (but numerically few) examples of, say, unemployed immigrants getting £1,000 a week to live in Notting Hill have riled many, myself included. But it’s worth asking the question why are so many …

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Opinion: Council Housing – our role in its downfall

Housing is not an issue of Conservatism or Socialism. It is an issue of Humanity

The Conservative Minister for Housing said that. In the 1950s. His name was Harold Macmillan, and he oversaw more than 300,000 homes built every year of that decade, two thirds of which were council homes.

Those words were spoken in a time when there was a consensus that the state should step in where there had been a market failure, and to ensure that everybody who wanted a decent home could afford one. Fast forward fifty years and what has happened that concrete and brick foundation …

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Emergency motion: speak out on council housing

We are unique amongst the main political parties in having a democratic internal structure.   This weekend is our opportunity, denied to both Labour and Tory members, to decide the future of our party and proclaim what it means to be a Liberal Democrat.

In addition to major policy announcements, there are six possible emergency motions listed in Conference Extra.  Only one of these will be chosen for debate on Wednesday morning, following a ballot of conference attendees on Sunday.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark have submitted one of these emergency motions, and it is not without controversy.  It is in direct response …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments
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