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Displaying ROOF Blog articles from June 2007

Lunchtime news June 29


Posted by:
Bill Rashl

Nationwide said its house price index rose by 1.1 per cent rise in June, taking the annual rate up to 11.1 per cent. That means that house prices are rising at their fastest rate – the equivalent of £50 a day – for more than two and a half years, drools the Mail.

It won’t last though warns Justin Modray, of Bestinvest independent financial advisers. ‘There are compelling reasons to suggest that the exceptionally strong ten-year bull run could be nearing its zenith,’ Modray says in the Times.

The paper also reports that Doncaster is the cheapest city to buy a property, followed by Middlesborough, Swansea and Liverpool.

The FT reports that the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee will vote for a rate rise next week.

Homeless Link is writing to every housing director in England to promote its Move On Plans Protocol (MOPP) toolkit. The kit is intented to provide housing authorities with a better understanding of move on need and encourage the creation of partnerships with the voluntary sector.

Homelessness prevention and gatekeeping were the themes of a conference held in Kensington London yesterday.

A rampant housing market and a lack of affordable and suitable housing were key factors in homelessness, a report by Shelter Cymru has found. New low-cost home ownership initiatives and funds to tackle homelessness prevention work were also urged in the inquiry, launched at Shelter Cymru’s annual conference in Swansea yesterday

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Tags: news

ROOF lunchtime news 28 June 2023


Posted by:
Bill Rashl

Hazel Blears will be the new secretary of state for Communities and Local Government. The former minister of state at the Home Office, who came sixth in the contest for the deputy Labour leadership, will replace Ruth Kelly, who moves to Transport. An ex Old Labour firebrand who opposed the abolition of Clause 4 – the party’s commitment to nationalisation – Blears has since become a loyal Blairite, enforcing his ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ mantra, and pushing through controversial anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos).

Meanwhile, it’s all housing, housing, housing. The political ‘mood music’ on this is changing as senior figures in the new government increasingly put the challenge of affordable housing in the same category as health and education. Housing was mentioned several times by the PM’s close confidante and new chancellor, Alistair Darling, talking this morning on Radio 4’s Today Programme about what to expect from the new government. Housing – and the prospect of councils building more homes – appears alongside the NHS, Schools, Trust and ‘Britishness’ in The Daily Mirror’s summary of the big challenges facing Brown. His promise to effect ‘change with affordable housing’ is repeated in the Daily Mail.

And while it’s all change on the political front, here’s a blast from the past. Ex-Barratt Developments chief executive and newly installed chairman of the New Homes Marketing Board, David Pretty is calling on government to bring back the Miras tax relief scheme to help overstretched first-time buyers. The proposal is one of 10 contained in a plan to help young buyers, as seen by The Times. Pretty will present it to Gordon Brown next week. Seven of the ten recommendations are aimed at boosting the numbers of new homes being built each year in England. These range from the sell-off of government land at a discount that can be passed on to first-time buyers and key workers, to fast-tracking planning applications for affordable housing. Another recommendation is a call to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers. Experts are concerned that subsidising homebuyers in this way will push prices up even further. David Pretty is writing in the next edition of ROOF. Book your copy now on

Mr Pretty has described first-time buyers as ‘the new poor’. And they’re in for more bad news on the house price front. According to new research by the Nationwide Building Society, first-timers are, on average, borrowing 5.1 times their earnings to buy a home and UK house price inflation ‘bounced back’ in June with prices rising by 1.1%.

The stronger-than-expected increase lifted the annual rate of growth to 11.1% from 10.3% in May, meaning prices are rising more than twice as fast as last year. However, the building society predicted growth would slow in the second half of the year, sticking by its forecast of 5-8% price growth for 2007. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet next week to decide whether to raise UK interest rates again.

Elsewhere, campaigners have asked Gordon Brown to focus on the complex needs of street homeless people. In a letter to The Times, respresentatives from more than 100 organisations have asked for a government public sector agreement target on multiple needs. ‘This would be a strong lever to ensure services will deliver the integrated package of support that will move people out of deep exclusion for ever.’

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Lunchtime news June 26


Posted by:
Julian Birch

Planners and developers have called on the government to end uncertainty over the proposed planning gain supplement. The Royal Town Planning Institute, British Property Federation and British Retail Consortium say the current plan is unworkable but the uncertainty is stopping the development of alternatives that could help fund infrastructure for sustainable communities.

There’s some positive news for Tony Blair’s all important legacy. A new London School of Economics study has found that a decline in social mobility in the 1970s and 1980s has levelled off, suggesting that new Labour may have stopped things getting worse. Even so, the study finds that children from poorer families have less chance of improving their lives in Britain than those in most other wealthy countries.

To compound the problems facing children, The Times reports that 10 per cent of five to 16-year-olds suffer from significant emotional and behavioural problems (ranging from depression to eating disorders), compared with between five and 10 per cent for adults. The Institute of Psychiatry says that the number of teenagers with emotional and behavioural problems has doubled between 1974 and 1999.

Even the big city hedge funds are being hit by the sub-prime meltdown in the US and Britain, reports the Telegraph. Queen’s Walk Investments, the ‘elite’ fund run by Cheyne Capital Management, has posted losses of £46m for the first quarter.

The shockwaves are also being felt further down the wealth chain. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service says there was a 17.5 per cent increase in the number of people calling its helpline in the first five months of 2007.

Good news, says Tom Stevenson in the Telegraph. ‘The explosion of personal debt…is a dreadful social ill but in the short term it has probably been a net positive for investors because the country’s reckless spending spree has given a boost to corporate profits.’ That’s alright then.

A study by the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit forecasts that by 2026 the cheapest English homes will cost 10 times the average earnings of the poorest 25% of people.

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Tags: development

Lunchtime news June 22


Posted by:
Julian Birch

The housing minister will attend Cabinet meetings, Gordon Brown confirmed in his acceptance speech as the new Labour leader yesterday, while housing will be a priority alongside health and education. The speech is covered in today’s papers including the Financial Times and Independent.

Government plans to build 200,000 homes a year display a ‘poverty of ambition’ according to Conservative housing spokesman Michael Gove speaking at Harrogate last week.

But Tory MPs and councillors are promising a big revolt if the party leadership tries to push through more housebuilding in the South East, according to today’s Telegraph.

The worst housing crisis in Britain? The Herald profiles the Isle of Arran, which is says has the longest waiting list in the country as a proportion of residents.

Housebuilder Persimmon said the housing market was set to shrug off recent interest rate rises as it reported higher profit margins this morning.

Buy-to-let landlords get £2bn a year in tax relief from setting mortgage payments against rental income, according to Saturday’s Guardian. But the Observer warns amateur landlords could be caught out by a crash.

HIPs for three-bed homes may come in as early as September, says Saturday’s Guardian. But the Observer says the delay in the timetable is causing chaos in the private rented market.

Ballot papers are going out to 30,000 tenants in Lambeth today over the London council’s plan for an almo.

Local authoritites should see their first increase in capital receipts for four years this year, according to DCLG figures released on Friday. However, much of the increase will come from a share sale and property deal rather than right to buy sales.

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Lunchtime news June 21


Posted by:
Julian Birch

The government will amend the law so that people leaving the armed services do not fail to get priority for social housing because they lack a local connection, housing minister Yvette Cooper said today.

At Harrogate, John Hills warned that social housing could end up ’warehousing the poor’ unless issues of inequality and worklessness were tackled too.

The CIH said it would consult its 16,000 members on the government’s proposals for Communities England but said it was on the right track.

Yvette Cooper promises more affordable new homes in the Mirror. The paper speculates that the spending review will see an extra £3bn for housing and 20,000 extra social rented homes a year.

The Olympics organisers may have to evict 36 residents and 13 travellers to make way for the games, reports The Times.

103 local authorities have opted for stock retention over transfer, almo and PFI, housing minister Yvette Cooper revealed in a written answer yesterday, while 148 have gone for transfer (with another 32 in development), 40 for almo (11) and 14 for a mix of options (6).

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Lunchtime news June 19


Posted by:
Julian Birch

The National Housing Federation has attacked yesterday’s Cave report on regulation for being too bureaucratic and short changing tenants (it wanted housing association boards clearly accountable to tenants). However, the CIH welcomed Cave’s ‘tenant-first approach’.

Ruth Kelly’s full speech at Harrogate, which includes more on the Cave review and Communities England, is now on the DCLG website.

Also at Harrogate, the key role housing plays in community cohesion was highlighted in a speech by Housing Corporation deputy chief executive Steve Douglas. And CIH president Paul Diggory called for £11.6bn for housing in the spending review and said buy-to-let tax reliefs were harming first-time buyers.

Mortgage lending reached a record £30.6bn in May – 5% up on a May 2006 – according to CML figures released this morning. However, the rate of growth was down from the 12-14% seen in the last few months.

An SNP scheme to give a £2,000 grant to first-time buyers in Scotland has been assessed as ineffective in Australia, where the idea was pioneered, reports the Herald.

The Mirror has details of 47 Labour MPs – including Ruth Kelly – with majorities smaller than the waiting list in their area.

Super-rich foreigners are using non-domiciled tax privileges to drive up house prices, reports The Independent.

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Lunchtime news June 15


Posted by:
Julian Birch

London’s suburbs are in danger of becoming dormitories with no jobs as they gear up for more new homes, according to a report by the London Assembly.

Housing associations will be able to take greater risks in the financial markets under new treasury management rules, according to Inside Housing.

The Housing Corporation has published a new policy on resident involvement that exempts associations with less than 250 homes from the requirement to have at least one resident board member by April 2008 and allows more time for charitable associations and specialist associations to meet the deadline.

Why are rising bond yields bad news for the housing market in general and people coming to the end of a fixed-term mortgage in particular? Ashley Seager explains in today’s Guardian.

Reforms of the legal aid system are bringing it close to collapse, according to a coalition of charities in The Observer.

A rash of new internet companies are setting up schemes to buy homes from people with payment problems and rent them back to them, reports the Financial Times.

Nottingham City Council is demanding new powers to control buy to let after a surge of investment in parts of the city forced it to consider closing schools because there are not enough families with children, reports Saturday’s Guardian.

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Lunchtime news June 14


Posted by:
Julian Birch

The Liberal Democrats today dramatically raised the political stakes on housing with a call for a million new affordable homes over the next decade. The 100,000-a-year programme would be more than double the current programme.

But housing minister Yvette Cooper told the BBC the Lib Dem figures were ‘flaky and don’t add up’.

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion published its final report this morning arguing that housing has a key part to play in community relations and calling for a boost in supply and greater transparency in allocations. Go here for the DCLG press release.

Rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner announced a feasibility study to be carried out by DEFRA and the Houisng Corporation to help overcome local barriers to rural affordable housing provision. He was speaking at a Commission for Rural Communities conference marking one year since the report of the Affordable Rural Housing Commision.

Two consortia of housing associations are still in the running to manage the Cambridge Challenge with the Housing Corporation expecting to announce the winner of the competion to develop sites in the city by the end of July.

New instructions to sell homes rose at their fastest rate since the RICS began its survey in 1978 as home owners rushed (needlessly as it turned out) to beat the deadline for HIPs, reports the Financial Times.

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Lunchtime news June 13


Posted by:
Julian Birch

A million tenants living in private rented housing are living with the fear of eviction if they compain about poor conditions, according to a report today by Citizens Advice. The report calls for protection against retaliatory eviction. More details are in the next issue of ROOF, published next week.

House prices have already reached 10 times earnings – the nightmare scenario predicted last week for England by 2026 – in many rural areas, according to Stuart Burgess, chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities. Speaking ahead of a conference tomorrow, he said prices were already 13 times earnings in areas such as national parks.

Britain’s top 10 housebuilders have enough unused land with planning permission to build 225,000 homes – double their current output, according to a Royal Town Planning Institute research reported in the Financial Times today. RTPI policy director Kelvin MacDonald says in a Guardian article that it is wrong to focus just on the planning reforms as the solution to the housing crisis.

Conservative housing spokeman Michael Gove called for a government apology over the collapse of Move UK, the national mobility scheme for social tenants, in oral questions in the Commons yesterday. Communities secretary Ruth Kelly said she regretted the collapse and would work to develop the choice-based lettings scheme to offer more mobility.

The National Association of Estate Agents has condemned the new timetable for the introduction of home information packs (HIPs) as ‘a shambles’. It wants energy performance certificates should be introduced immediately and the rest of the packs scrapped pending further consultation.

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Lunchtime news June 12


Posted by:
Julian Birch

Mortgage interest payments are at their highest level against incomes in 15 years, according to Council of Mortgage Lenders figures released this morning. First-time buyers now pay 18.7% of their incomes, the same as in the first quarter of 1992. Although this is still below the peak of 28.1 seen in 1990, 58% of today’s first-time buyers now have to pay stamp duty too.

The figures came the day after a speech by Bank of England governor Mervyn King warning that rates will rise again. Today’s papers, including the Telegraph, report that as suggesting they will rise from the current 5.5% to 6%.

Doctors, teachers, employers, churches and trade unions are among 24 groups that have joined a coalition organised by Shelter Scotland that will take the case for housing to Scottish politicians tomorrow. They are all backing a call for 30,000 rented homes over the next three years.

London’s largest housing associations say they are using their surpluses to support vital community projects while trebling their investment in new homes over the last 10 years and cutting the government grant rate from 68% to 52%. A report launched yesterday by the G15 group counters a study for the Housing Corporation that said large associations have billons of pounds in untapped capacity that should be going into new homes.

Over 40% of first-time buyers have never heard of affordable housing schemes and only 15% know if they qualify for one, according to a survey by property website What House. When prompted, 60% say the schemes should be open to anyone on the minimum wage and 40% think single parent families should qualify.

The Independent reports on prototype zero carbon homes on show at the Building Research Establishment.

In his Guardian column, George Monbiot attacks Olympics organisers for evicting travellers to make way for the games

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Lunchtime news June 11


Posted by:
Julian Birch

House price inflation accelerated to 11.3% in April, according to the DCLG index this morning.

But housing markets are vulnerable to a collapse on a ‘global scale’, according to research by ABN Amro reported in the Daily Mail. Claims that a continuing property shortage in the UK will lead to ever-rising prices ‘have as much credibility as Britney Spears’ latest comeback’.

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has issued a warning about risky mortgage lending in the buy to let and sub-prime sectors, reports today’s Financial Times.

The Guardian reports research from Hometrack about the missing first rung of the housing market that was first highlighted in the last issue of ROOF.

Homeless acceptances in the first quarter of 2007 were 17% down on a year ago, according to DCLG homlessness statistics published this morning.

The Herald covers the £200,000 job that nobody seems to want despite a global search – succeeding Michael Lennon as chief executive of Glasgow Housing Association.

Meanwhile, the housing crisis got extensive coverage in the weekend press:

The Guardian continued its coverage of ‘locust’ buy to let investors with a feature on how they have laid communities to waste in a ‘feeding frenzy’.

In the Sunday Times, Minette Martin called for a building boom – including the green belt if necessary.

A leader in the Sunday Telegraph says the crisis is about to hit home, with political consequences for the government. And a business news story predicts that ‘housing, housing, housing’ will define the Brown government as much as ‘education, education, education’ did Blair.

The Observer cites figures from the Nationwide showing that mortgages now account for half the income of first-time buyers, up from a third only three years ago.

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Lunchtime news June 8


Posted by:
Julian Birch

Action to stop anti-social private tenants blighting housing developments will be a top priority for Communities England, reports Inside Housing.

Most of today’s papers, including the Financial Times, speculate that interest rates will rise again soon despite yesterday’s decision to hold at 5.5%

The Times interviews buy-to-let landlords determined to hold on to their investments despite rising interest rates. They include one couple buying a house for their children, currently aged 10 and six.

Financial and staffing issues are stopping local authorities from tackling the shortage of affordable homes, according a survey of housing managers by the Improvement and Development Agency and CIH reported in Society Guardian. The agency has just published the first of a series of papers on the strategic housing role.

A house for £50,000? Perhaps, if you don’t mind it being on the small side. The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani tries out an eight foot by eight foot cube house. Watch here.

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Lunchtime news June 6


Posted by:
Julian Birch

House price inflation slowed to 10.6% in May, according to the Halifax [downloads PDF] this morning, after a monthly rise of 0.3%.

The Bank of England held interest rates at 5.5% today. The move was welcomed by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, but it warned that 2.8m borrowers on fixed rate loans face rises in repayments in the next two years.

The National Housing Advice and Planning Unit is launched today with a report predicting that affordability will continue to worsen because not enough new homes are being built. Today’s papers, including the Telegraph, highlight its prediction that house prices will reach 10 times average earnings by 2026 unless planning rules are reformed.

The general union GMB today called for a fourth option for council housing and a cabinet minister for housing. Defend Council Housing said that comments by Gordon Brown at the union’s conference this week signalled a major shift in policy. Answering a question about the fourth option, the prime minister-elect said: ’We will give help to councils by new means, by which they can build houses themselves.’

Climate change and environment minister Ian Pearson has promised action on fuel poverty alongside the energy white paper.

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Lunchtime news June 5


Posted by:
Julian Birch

Gordon Brown will back a major new programme of rented housing and hint that councils should be allowed to build homes again in a speech today to the annual conference of the general union GMB, reports The Guardian.

English Partnerships has invited expressions of interest in what will be England’s first large-scale zero carbon development. Developers will have to achieve the highest rating in the code for sustainable homes in a 150-home scheme on a former hospital site in Bristol.

A Times analysis of the housing market asks whether there will be a crash and says buy-to-let investors could hold the key.

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Lunchtime news June 4


Posted by:
Julian Birch

The Sunday papers, including the Observer and Independent, were full of speculation about a downturn in the housing market and whether the Bank of England will increase interest rates again when it meets on Wednesday.

The number of people taking out mortgages of more than 30 years has doubled in the last two years, according to a Financial Times investigation which says millions could be paying off their home loans into retirement. Go here for a case study of a Leeds couple who could only afford to buy with a 40-year, 100% loan.

Meanwhile the FT says up to a million borrowers could see their mortgage costs rise by a third in the next 12 months as cheap deals come to an end.

More and more buy-to-let landlords are having their investment properties repossessed because of the recent interest rate hikes, reports the Telegraph.

Buy to let landlords aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch, according to the Mail. Up to a million homeowners are facing ‘a mortgage timebomb’ warns the paper.

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Lunchtime news June 1


Posted by:
Julian Birch

All six Labour deputy leadership candidates tell today’s Inside Housing (see here too) that they back the ‘fourth option’ of direct investment in council housing.

The three new statutory tenancy deposit schemes have protected the deposits of 66,000 tenants worth £58m in its first two months of operation, according to new figures released yesteday by the DCLG.

The Housing Corporation has published a new guidance note it says will release high-performing housing associations from detailed regulation and a new policy on resident involvement as well as a set of regional reviews.

London is facing a serious shortage of specialist supported accommodation. A joint report by the National Housing Federation, Mayor of London and the Housing Corporation says almost 6,000 places will be needed in the next 10 years for vulnerable and socially-excluded people.

The housing market is clearly softening in the wake of interest rate rises, according to a market commentary published by the CML [downloads PDF] today. The Nationwide said yesterday that house price inflation rose again in May to 10.3% but that the market was weakening.

First-time buyers now account for just 10.3% of sales, according to the National Association of Estate Agents. The April figure was down from 12.6% in March – and 29% in 2000.

Today’s papers, including the Times, interpret the fall in mortgage approvals reported by the Bank of England. as another sign of decline. The Independent weighs up the mixed evidence in a longer feature.

Gordon Brown must look at tax reform to curb the growth in buy to let, says the Guardian in a leader today.

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Housing Care and Support conference