A report examined the housing market in England. It said that the average first-time buyer now had an average income of £36,500, and required a £30,000 deposit. This was said to amount to almost ten times the deposit required in the early 1980s, when the average salary for first-time buyers was £20,000. It said that two thirds of first-time buyers received financial help from parents, and it discussed the regional variations in property wealth and housing market conditions. It called on the next United Kingdom government to stop short-term housing initiatives and to produce, within the first year of office, a long-term plan to deliver more, sustainable, and high quality new homes, in the right areas, as well as additional rental opportunities.
Source: Broken Market Broken Dreams: Let's end the housing crisis within a generation, National Housing Federation
The Welsh Assembly approved the Housing (Wales) Act. The Act was designed to introduce a compulsory registration and licensing scheme for private rented sector landlords and letting and management agents; reform homelessness law, place a stronger duty of prevention on local authorities, and allow them to house applicants in private sector housing; place a duty on local authorities to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers; introduce standards for local authorities on rents, service charges, and quality of accommodation; reform the housing revenue account subsidy system; enable local authorities to charge 50 per cent more than the standard rate of council tax on empty homes; and assist the provision of housing by co-operative housing associations.
Source: Housing (Wales) Act, Welsh Government, TSO
A new book examined sustainable development policies that had arisen in London across a range of policy areas (including transport, housing, property development, and education), and their impacts and effects.
Source: Rob Imrie and Loretta Lees, Sustainable London? The future of a global city, Policy Press
A second reading was given to a private member's Bill designed to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing in England by the Secretary of State, and to introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from housing benefit (or the housing element of universal credit) for claimants who were deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes (frequently referred to as the 'spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'). The housing benefit exemptions would apply in England, Wales, and Scotland to: certain disabled occupiers in adapted accommodation; certain disabled occupants in receipt of disability living allowance or personal independence payment who were not able to share a bedroom; and all claimants where their landlord or local authority had not made a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.
Source: Affordable Homes Bill, Andrew George MP, TSO | Debate 5 September 2014, columns 550-611, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
A report compared urban housing in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Berlin, Germany, outlining similarities between both cities, as well as contrasting innovation in housing developments. It said that existing approaches to development and design quality in Belfast might be building further, irreversible segregation into the urban environment. The report made a range of recommendations, including changes to the scale and density of development, for more small scale building projects, and for innovative financing.
Source: Dougal Sheridan (ed.), Translating Housing: Berlin-Belfast, Northern Ireland Department for Social Development
A report provided findings from the Scottish Housing Commission. Recommendations included: to establish a Scottish Housing Observatory to mobilize knowledge exchange between government, researchers, and stakeholders; for the development of new methods for supporting the market to sustain demand, and for the private rented sector to be a key part of meeting demand; for changes within social housing finance and regulation; for review of, and changes to, the planning system; for encouragement of refurbishment and maintenance by reducing the rate of value-added-tax to 5 per cent; and for the development of six to eight 'major new communities' across Scotland, as new towns or as regeneration/extension to existing locations.
Source: Building a Better Scotland: The RICS Scottish Housing Commission Report, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
A think-tank paper examined whether and how income and wealth polarization was an explanatory factor in understanding why the housing market did not provide affordable housing for all in the United Kingdom. It said that there was a strong and consistent correlation between income inequality and house prices, with inequality both increasing prices and restricting supply through affecting consumption, influencing attitudes to new development, reducing the numbers of moves within the market, and sorting the market by creating uplift in prices in higher value areas that were not offset by reductions elsewhere. It discussed the implications for housing policy, including Help to Buy.
Source: Brian Green and Faiza Shaheen, Economic Inequality and House Prices in the UK, New Economics Foundation
An article examined the housing and mortgage markets in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and the governments' responses following the global financial crisis of 2008. It said that the two countries enacted similar short-term stimulus measures for the housing market, and had adopted stricter long-term regulations, thereby replacing the earlier assumption of rational consumer behaviour with principles of behavioural economics. The article noted that the institutional frameworks within each system would condition the effects of such measures, such that outcomes in the two countries would differ, but said that tighter regulation of mortgage markets was expected to reduce demand for owner-occupied housing.
Source: Kathleen Scanlon and Marja Elsinga, 'Policy changes affecting housing and mortgage markets: how governments in the UK and the Netherlands responded to the GFC', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29 Number 2
A report examined the role of the welfare state and considered the need to increase support for the housing safety net in England.
Source: Kate Webb, Winning Support for a Stronger Safety Net, Shelter
A think-tank report examined British society after the economic downturn and proposed changes to the systems of support for families, young people, older people, and those facing social exclusion, and reforms to social security, employment support, and housing policy.
Source: Kayte Lawton, Graeme Cooke, and Nick Pearce, The Condition of Britain: Strategies for social renewal, Institute for Public Policy Research
A special issue of a journal examined the experiences of, approaches to, and explanations for the interactions between developing financial and economic crises and national housing markets in European countries.
Source: Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29 Number 2
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Mark Stephens and Christine Whitehead, 'Rental housing policy in England: post crisis adjustment or long term trend?'
Kathleen Scanlon and Marja Elsinga, 'Policy changes affecting housing and mortgage markets: how governments in the UK and the Netherlands responded to the GFC'
Michelle Norris and Dermot Coates, 'How housing killed the Celtic tiger: anatomy and consequences of Ireland's housing boom and bust'
A report examined the impact of regulation on the private rented sector in the United Kingdom, and examined three case studies: tenancy deposit schemes; landlord and property registration; and managing tenants. It said that there was a need to reduce the regulatory burden, and that increased regulation could increase rents and shrink the sector. It said that any regulatory proposals should be subject to cost-benefit and sensitivity analysis and concluded that there should be a rigorous review of the existing regulatory framework that avoided exaggeration benefits, recognized the limits of state actions, and included an integrated analysis of impacts on operating costs, investment, and rent levels.
Source: Michael Ball, The Impact of Regulation on the Private Rented Sector, Resident Landlords' Association
A report examined the impact of welfare reforms to date on housing in London. It said that housing costs in the city had led to increased numbers of housing benefit claims in recent years, especially for private tenants. The report said that there was some evidence that landlords were increasingly cautious in renting to tenants on housing benefit, and there had been increases in the early termination of assured shorthold tenancies, levels of statutory homelessness, and the use of temporary accommodation. It said that the reforms were changing the composition of local communities, with some evidence of claimant household movements within individual boroughs and, in particular, to Outer London, as well as increasing concentration of housing benefit claimants in particular areas. It discussed the transitional funding arrangements (discretionary housing payments) and made recommendations, including for the regular review of additional support mechanisms in the context of the changing housing market in London.
Source: Assessing the Consequences of Welfare Reform, Greater London Authority
The government published a summary of responses, and its own response, to a consultation on proposals to change the general consents issued under section 25 of the Local Government Act 1988. A new consent would now allow councils to dispose of vacant housing land to non-registered providers at less than market value. An amendment to consent B would remove the requirement that a property should be in need of renovation before disposal to a registered provider at less than market value. It would also remove the cap that limited the number of properties that could be disposed of in this way.
Source: Consultation on the General Consents Issued under Section 25 of the Local Government Act 1988: Summary of responses and government response, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report called for a range of policy interventions to increase the supply of affordable housing. Proposals included: a National Housing Investment Bank; for affordable housing to be reclassified as 'infrastructure' in the national accounts (to remove it from inclusion in the public sector borrowing requirement); clearer linkage of rents with household income; and for Local Housing Companies to be created in some areas (to oversee a range of related areas, spanning local authority boundaries).
Source: Mike De'Ath, Making a Place for Low Cost Housing, Housing Forum
A new book examined key contemporary housing issues in the context of globalized housing systems. It considered the crisis in mortgage market regulation; housing rights within the European human rights architecture; responses to the decline and regeneration of inner cities; legal issues around squatting in developed economies; and changes in tenure patterns away from home-ownership.
Source: Padraic Kenna (ed.), Contemporary Housing Issues in a Globalized World, Ashgate Publications
Notes: Chapters included:
Vanesa Valino, 'Housing rights in Europe: the Council of Europe leads the way'
Maria Antonieta Nestor, 'From individual to collective squat: economic theory and the regulation of squatting in England and France'
A new book examined housing in Britain and its role within the economy, arguing that housing was both at the heart of the recent financial crisis, and central to a precarious economic recovery. The book said that building more homes would not resolve the crises of homelessness and affordability, and that efforts should be made instead to address inequality.
Source: Danny Dorling, All that is Solid: The great housing disaster, Allen Lane
A report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur outlined findings from a visit to the United Kingdom in 2013 which examined housing, land and planning policies. It noted the Rapporteur's concerns about the erosion of policies and practices which had protected the realization of the right to adequate housing, and said that the structural shape of the housing sector had changed to the detriment of the most vulnerable. Recommendations included: that the United Kingdom government should now review the impact and cost effectiveness of its welfare reforms; to suspend the spare room subsidy provisions (also known as the 'bedroom tax'); to introduce a range of measures to improve the supply of affordable housing; to regulate the private rented sector; and to improve protections against stigma and discrimination when accessing housing.
Source: Raquel Rolnik, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing As a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-Discrimination in This Context on Her Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (29 Augustï¿½11 September 2013), United Nations
A report said that the Mayor's proposed housing strategy for London was not sufficiently ambitious in its proposals to address housing shortages. The report said that the plans did not address the shortage of affordable housing, overcrowding, and homelessness. It called for additional detail in order to assess the proposals more thoroughly.
Source: London Assembly Response to the Draft London Housing Strategy, Greater London Authority