Wednesday, 23 January 2019

UK Rents Fall For First Time In A Decade


Rents across Britain fell in 2018 for the first time in a decade, offering relief for tenants after years of inflation-busting rises. Figures from the Deposit Protection Scheme – a government-backed group that supervises tenancy deposits – showed the average rent fell by £9 (1.17%) from £774 in 2017 to £765. The typical UK tenant spent 31% of their income on rent in 2018, a fall of 0.5% from the year before, the DPS said. Read more on the Guardian website.

DWP Landlord Rent Payment Portal Won’t Be Live Until Summer


An on-line portal passing benefit related rent payments direct to PRS landlords won’t be live until Summer at the earliest. Richard d’Souza, Head of the DWP Universal Credit Engagement Division, told the London Assembly Housing Committee that the system was being built to go on line by Summer. Testimony to the committee reinforced the links between welfare reform, rent arrears and rocketing eviction rates. Landlords have accumulated up to £15,000 of arrears as a result of reform – with arrears a key factor in driving landlords away from buy-to-let. Read more on 24housing.

'Micro-Homes Could Solve' London's Housing Crisis


Living in micro-homes could "expand choice" for young professionals and help tackle London's housing crisis, a report has suggested. A neoliberal think tank is calling for the Greater London Authority (GLA) to scrap its rules on minimum floor space. The Adam Smith Institute said homes in the capital with less than 37 sq m of floor space could be an "affordable opportunity" for young people. But the GLA said "cramming people in" was not the answer to the problem. Micro-homes are defined by the British Property Federation as living spaces between 20 and 40 sq m, that are either self-contained or share some amenities. Read more on the BBC website.

Housebuilding Starts By Private Builders In London Fall 15 Per Cent


The number of new homes started by private housebuilders in London fell 15 per cent last year to the lowest level since 2013, figures reveal. Developers began building 23,130 homes in the capital in 2018, compared with 27,356 in 2017 and 33,774 in the recent peak year of 2015, according to data from analysts Molior London. The report says: “London has never recently been further away from building the number of homes it needs”, with a shortfall in 2016-17 of more than 24,500. Read more on the Homes & Property website.

‘Shape-Shifting’ Homes Seen As The Future


One of Europe’s largest steel producers offers some bolted-on ideas for the future of housing in the UK – and is ready to make them stand up to open up a market worth a potential £6bn a year. In a white paper, Neighbourhoods of the Future, Tata Steel pitches housing development shapeshifting beyond the “ladder rungs” consumers are expected to climb from starter home upwards and then back down again in later life. Instead, Tata sees future homes as capable of adaptation – morphing to support a growing family and then adjusting to accommodate an ageing one. Read more on 24housing.

Council Urges Ban On Housing Benefit Being Paid To Rogue Landlords


A London council that banned a rogue landlord and then directly paid him more than £500,000 in housing benefit has called on the government to legislate to prevent local authorities from making similar payments in the future. Brent made repeated payments of taxpayers’ money to Bernard McGowan, who has a £30m property empire and failed the council’s “fit and proper” test in 2015. The decision against McGowan, who was convicted six times under the Housing Act between 2014 and 2017, meant the landlord was barred from directly renting out houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) across Brent, or any sort of home in eight of the borough’s wards where landlords specifically require a licence. Read more on the Guardian website.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Up To 25% Wiped Off House Prices In Some Of UK's Wealthiest Areas


House prices in some of Britain’s wealthiest areas have had up to 25% wiped off their value in 12 months as Brexit turmoil continues. That has meant typical price falls in some cases of almost £500,000. Meanwhile, data from the property website Rightmove revealed the average asking price of a London home had fallen below £600,000 for the first time since August 2015, and was well below its peak of almost £650,000 reached a few weeks before the Brexit vote in 2016. The two sets of figures come days after Britain’s surveyors issued an especially gloomy assessment, fuelled by the lack of clarity over Britain’s departure from the EU. Read more on the Guardian website.

Ministers Urged To Halt Right-To-Buy


Ministers are facing calls to shelve the right-to-buy scheme after a devastating analysis revealed that more than 40% of council houses sold under its terms in London are now privately rented. The damning findings of an analysis of Freedom of Information data also show that:
            Tens of millions of pounds are being paid by local authorities to rent former council homes in order to house growing numbers of homeless families;
            Some councils have bought back their former homes at more than six times the amount they sold them for;
·         Hundreds of private landlords now own five or more right-to-buy properties. 
Read more on the Observer website.

Council To Spend £750,000 Keeping KCTMO Running


Board papers from the from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) revealed a total of £750,000 would be spent on the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) in 2019/20, with £250,000 being found through the company’s reserves. The remaining £500,000 will be funded directly by RBKC, through its Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget. The KCTMO managed 9,000 homes across the borough including the Grenfell Tower at the time of the fire in June 2017. Read more on Inside Housing.

Tax Rises Hits Rented Housing Tenants


Tenants in private rented housing are bearing the brunt of the government’s tax increases on the sector. That’s the warning being issued by the Residential Landlords Association, as research shows the supply of homes to rent is drying up while demand remains high. Data released today by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warns that, while demand for rented housing from tenants “held more or less steady…for the third month running”, the number of landlord instructions “declined once again, rounding off a year in which they have fallen in all 12 months”. The RLA is blaming the government’s tax rises on the sector for the difficulties tenants now have in accessing suitable private rented housing. Read more on 24housing.

UK Housing Market Forecast At 20 Year Low


The latest data and analysis released by RICS has painted the gloomiest picture of the UK housing market for 20 years. Alongside continuing lack of stock and affordability issues, Brexit and the accompanying political uncertainty have been blamed by many surveyors to be playing a major part. RICS reports that key activity indicators continued to slip in December with sales volumes dwindling, although beneath this national headline figure some areas of the UK saw a more positive trend (East Anglia, Wales, the North East and Northern Ireland). Read more on the Property Reporter website.

Building Boom For UK Build-To-Rent Housing


Research published by the British Property Federation (BPF) shows that the total number of build-to-rent homes – new, high-quality and professionally-managed homes built for renters – under construction across the UK has increased by nearly 40 per cent.
·         Total number of build-to-rent homes under construction in the UK increases by nearly 40 per cent
·         There are now 139,508 build-to-rent homes in the UK, of which 29,416 are complete, 43,374 under construction and 66,718 in planning
·         Research shows significant drop in use of Permitted Development Rights to deliver build-to-rent homes across London
Read more on the BPF website.

Lenders Cut Mortgage Rates To Give A Kick-Start To 2019


First-time buyers and homeowners remortgaging their properties have been given some good news at the start of the year as a number of lenders have cut their rates in an increasingly competitive market. Last week HSBC dropped rates on 31 different mortgages while the market-leading product for a 10-year fixed-rate loan also went down. The cuts come at a time when the outlook for property sales is at the lowest level for two decades. A report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that the looming threat of Brexit had dragged down the UK property market further, with prices falling at the fastest rate in six years. Read more on the Observer website.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

UK House Prices Fall At Fastest Rate In Six Years On Back Of Brexit


The looming threat of Brexit has dragged down the UK property market further, with prices falling at the fastest rate in six years and the outlook for sales the weakest in two decades, according to Britain’s surveyors. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said the number of inquiries, agreed sales and new instructions all declined in December. Sales expectations for the next three months were the lowest since the survey began in 1999, with a balance of -28% – the difference between the number of respondents anticipating increases and the number expecting decreases. Read more on the Guardian website.

More Than 50 Councils Will Share Extra Funding To Crack Down On Rogue Landlords

More than 50 councils across the country will share nearly £2.4 million of extra funding to crack down on rogue landlords.
·         More than 50 councils to benefit from nearly £2.4 million to ramp up action against the minority of irresponsible landlords who make tenants’ lives a misery
·         Money to be used to boost short-term staffing and create new digital tools to help councils better protect tenants
·         Measures build on action taken by government to protect renters and drive up standards across the sector
Read more on the MHCLG website.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/housing-minister-confirms-funding-for-councils-to-crack-down-on-rogue-landlords

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Persimmon Expects Higher Profits As Help-To-Buy Props Up Prices


Persimmon has upgraded its annual profit forecast after building more houses and increasing its prices, with nearly half the homes sold using the government’s help-to-buy scheme. Britain’s second-biggest housebuilder reported a 4% rise in revenues to £3.7bn in 2018. The average selling price for private homes rose 2% to £238,877. The company said the housing market was underpinned by robust employment levels, low interest rates and competitive mortgages. Persimmon is one of the main beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded help-to-buy scheme, which supported 48% of the firm’s house sales last year, similar to 2017. Read more on the Guardian website.

Leasehold Does Not Need Major Reform, Lenders Tell MPs


The controversial system of ‘leasehold’ ownership in England does not need major reform, the body representing high street lenders in the UK has told MPs. The comments from Matthew Jupp, principal of Mortgages at UK Finance, come despite widespread criticism of the tenure from ministers and plans for radical reform. At an evidence session of the MHCLG Committee he said there was little evidence of a ‘leasehold trap’, where people are unable to sell homes because they are difficult to mortgage. “There’s 4m leasehold properties in the country at least, and the market generally works ok,” he told the committee. Read more on Inside Housing.

New Housing Starts Rise By 12%

The number of new homes started in the second quarter of 2017/18 was up 12% on the previous year, latest figures from the government have found. Quarterly new build dwellings data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) shows that the number of homes started in the three months up to and including September had hit 44,740, a 12% increase from the 39,810 starts in the same period last year. The figures also represent a quarter-on-quarter rise, with the 44,740 starts 12% higher than the 39,980 housing starts recorded for the first quarter of 2018/19. Download the figures from the MHCLG website.
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/house-building-new-build-dwellings-england-july-to-september-2018?utm_source=64f9b862-85dd-4f1b-bcc3-e50dfe9e8c37&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Families Facing Homelessness After Tycoon Issues Eviction Notices


Dozens of families are facing the risk of homelessness after receiving eviction notices from one of Britain’s biggest and most controversial buy-to-let tycoons. Fergus Wilson is giving 90 households in Ashford, Kent two months to get out after he decided to sell his 700 property portfolio in the county estimated to be worth more than £200m. He is expected to issue hundreds more evictions in the coming months before retiring to “take life easy”. Wilson started sending out the “no fault” eviction notices on Monday and has already been told by nine families with children under 10 that they have no chance of getting another property and could be left homeless. Read more on the Guardian website.

Council Tax Hike Planned For Solihull's Empty Homes


Some empty homes in Solihull could see a council tax increase of up to 300 per cent as part of a push to get vacant houses back into use. Plans are being drawn up to impose new premiums on those properties which have been unoccupied for the longest periods of time. With increasing demand for housing across Solihull, the council hopes that a hike in bills might persuade owners to act. Figures from last month state that there are 1,212 empty homes in the borough. Read more on the Birmingham Live website.

£70m Homes England Funding To Bring 8,500 New Homes


Around 8,500 new houses will be built in Northamptonshire following a funding injection from Homes England, the government’s housing delivery agency. Located within an hour of London and Birmingham and inside the Cambridge/Oxford corridor, the two new residential schemes will help create around 3,000 jobs, as well as schools and leisure and commercial space. The developments in Kettering and Wellingborough have been made possible with a £70m loan from Homes England. The schemes have a projected combined value of £2.5bn over their lifetime, estimated to be 20 years. Read more on 24housing.

High Street Takeaways To Be Converted Into Housing Without Planning Permission

High street takeaway restaurants will be allowed to be converted into residential properties without planning permission under new government regeneration plans. Jake Berry MP, the high streets minister, said he wants to make town centres “flexible to change” and hopes to remove delays to redevelopment often imposed by local councils. Berry’s plans would mean fast food premises would be in the same position as office buildings and warehouses, which can be turned into homes without council consent. Read more on the inews website.
https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/high-street-takeaways-turned-into-housing-no-planning-permission/

Has The Brexit Vote Saved London Tenants £1,800 pa In Rent?


Tenants in London have saved as much as £1,800 in rent as a result of the Brexit referendum in 2016, according to an analysis of more than 100,000 rental properties listed on the Zoopla property website. Rent price growth in London is almost 3% lower than the projected rate of growth since the EU referendum announcement, leaving tenants with more money at the end of the month. Outside of London, rents have been firmer, with the Midlands recording the highest rates of increase, the company’s Landbay rental index shows. Read more on the Guardian website.

'Britain's Most Hated Landlord', 70, Finally Sells Up


'Britain's most hated landlord' is set to cause more misery - by evicting hundreds of tenants. Fergus Wilson, infamous for banning 'coloured' tenants because they smell like 'curry', hopes to sell his portfolio of 300 homes by the end of the year. The 70-year-old is planning to give tenants their marching orders next week. Last month his wife Judith Wilson, 68, was ordered to pay £25,000 in fines and legal costs for failing to supply hot water to a disabled tenant. The couple said they would appeal the decision and threatened to crash Ashford's property market by selling their empire. 32 homes have been sold independently and talks are underway to offload some stock in batches. Read more on the Mailonline.

Tower Block Residents 'Ill With Stress' Over Combustible Cladding

Residents in a tower block that is wrapped with combustible cladding say they are facing possible bankruptcy and are falling ill with stress after the building owner and its developer refused to pay £4m to make their homes safe. The latest government figures show that cladding on only five of 176 privately owned towers identified has been replaced amid ongoing disputes between ministers, councils and building owners over who should pay. Leaseholders at the Northpoint building in Bromley in south London are each facing £70,000 bills in a situation they describe as “absolutely desperate”. Read more on the Guardian website.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jan/13/tower-block-residents-ill-with-stress-over-combustible-cladding

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Housing: Construction – Parliamentary Written Answer


Sir John Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, at what rate he estimates the UK needs to build houses in order to cope with the additional demand created by current levels of immigration.
Kit Malthouse: The Government is committed to delivering the right homes in the right places. We are making progress, and latest figures show over 222,000 new homes were delivered in 2017/18 in England - the highest level of new homes delivered in all but one of the last 31 years. But we are determined to do more in order to deliver the homes communities need. That is why we have set out an ambitious package of measures to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. These measures include over £44 billion of financial support, planning reforms and scrapping housing revenue account borrowing caps so councils can deliver a new generation of council housing.

Housing Associations Buy Up Discounted Homes From Builders Amid Brexit Uncertainty

Housing associations are buying up new build homes from private builders at discounted rates, as they look to offload stock amid Brexit uncertainty in the housing market. Builders have sought out large housing associations in recent weeks to offer difficult-to-sell homes at discounts of up to 15%. The homes are being converted into affordable properties using government grant – but the move is a major sign of the growing uncertainty around Brexit and the stagnating market hitting house builders’ plans. Some are understood to be bolstering sales numbers before year end results. Read more on Inside Housing.
https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/housing-associations-buy-up-discounted-homes-from-builders-amid-brexit-uncertainty-59683?utm_source=Housing60&utm_medium=email&utm_content=article_link&utm_campaign=H60

Almost Half Of All House Sales Failed In Q4 2018


Newly released data from independent home buyer, Quick Move Now, has revealed that almost half of all house sales in England and Wales fell through before completion in the final quarter of 2018. According to the data, although the fourth quarter figure of 49.8 percent is a sharp rise from the third quarter figure of 28.3 percent, the annual fall through rate for 2018 remained steady at 30.6 percent - just one percent higher than the 2017 annual fall through rate. This shows that, although 2018 was somewhat of an uncertain year for the UK Property market, overall the number of sales falling through before completion remained fairly consistent. Read more on the Property Reporter website.

Empty Properties Will Be Seized For Homeless Families, Private Landlords Warned


No-nonsense housing bosses in Wolverhampton are warning private landlords that any homes in the city left empty for long periods of time will be seized and used to provide much-needed accommodation for homeless families. The city council’s ‘Empty Properties Strategy’ is designed to provide additional housing for people while at the same time generating additional civic income by reintroducing vacant properties to the market. Read more on the Express & Star website.

Thousands Of First-Time Buyers Holding Off Because Of Brexit


• At least 136,000 aspiring homeowners ready to buy are holding off because of Brexit uncertainty
• Majority (55%) of first-time buyers believe property prices will drop and they will be able to get more for their money after 29 March this year
• One in five (19%) of those who are currently saving to buy their first property say that they would be able to buy if house prices dropped by 5 per cent
New research reveals that the political climate is acting as the main deterrent for those in a financial position ready to get on the property ladder. More than half (55%) of aspiring first-time buyers with a deposit at the ready are holding off on buying as a result of Brexit. Read more on the One Family website.

Housing: Regeneration – Parliamentary Written Answer


Grahame Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will create a fund for local authorities and housing associations to invest in the regeneration of existing housing stock.
Kit Malthouse: The Autumn Budget 2017 announced additional funding of £400 million recoverable loan finance for estate regeneration schemes. A fund of £290 million of recoverable loan has previously been made available. Also, in March 2017 we allocated £32 million of grant to 105 estates. The priorities for the programme are to:
• support the creation of additional, high-quality housing by enabling the densification of estates (where appropriate) through the better use of space and design;
• create better places to help tackle the social disadvantage and deprivation associated with many existing estates.

Brokenshire Pledges PTSD Service Personnel As Social Housing Priority


Former service personnel suffering from PTSD or other mental illnesses will be prioritised for social housing, under proposals published for consultation by Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP. The measures will also help people who divorce or separate from their partners in the Armed Forces by exempting them from rules requiring them to be a local resident before being given a property. While the majority of military personnel transition successfully into civilian life, an overhaul of the system will also mean all applicants for social housing will be asked if they have served in the Forces at the outset of the process to ensure veterans get the help they are entitled to. Read more on 24housing.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Dutch Eco Initiative Halves Energy Bills In First UK Homes


A Dutch approach to transforming old homes through a dramatic green makeover has arrived in the UK and cut tenants’ energy bills in half. Nottingham has become the first city council to pioneer the “Energiesprong” (energy leap) initiative, which has radically upgraded the energy efficiency of thousands of homes in the Netherlands. More than 150 social housing homes in Nottingham will receive new wall cladding, windows and solar panels after the local authority won £5m from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund. Some tenants in homes already refurbished in a pilot scheme have seen monthly energy bills drop from about £120 to £60-£70. Read more on the Guardian website.

‘End Right To Buy’ To Help Build Three Million Social Homes


Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM says building social housing to the extent pitched by the Shelter/Social Housing Commission report means an end to Right To Buy. “It’s no good building new social housing only to lose precious existing council homes to Right To Buy. “The government must end this policy, which has resulted in the loss of 287,303 social rented homes in London in the past 40 years,” he says. Copley recognises the report recommendations as a “benchmark for the level of ambition”. London alone has seen fewer than 8,000 social homes having been built over the last five years in total. Read more on 24housing.

Minister: Responsibility For Removal Of Grenfell-Style Cladding ‘Rests With Councils’

Since the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, more than 272 privately owned buildings with similar cladding have been identified.  But the process to remove them has been slow – with only 29 towers having completed remediation work and 69 where no plans are in place to remove the materials at all. In a debate in the House of Lord’s, Lord Nick Bourne, under-secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said of these 69 buildings: “The ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the cladding comes off those rests with local authorities.” Read more on Inside Housing.
https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/minister-responsibility-for-removal-of-grenfell-style-cladding-rests-with-councils-59656?utm_source=Housing60&utm_medium=email&utm_content=article_link&utm_campaign=H60

England Needs 3m New Social Homes By 2040, Says Cross-Party Report


England must launch the biggest council and social house building drive in its history to rescue millions of people from a future in dangerous, overcrowded or unsuitable homes, a cross-party commission has told the government. More than 3m new social homes are needed in the next 20 years, more than were built in the two decades after the end of the second world war, according to a year-long housing commission launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. The call represents a direct challenge to Tory ministers to dramatically increase social house building from its current level of just over 6,000 homes a year. Read more on the Guardian website.

Over Four Million Underestimate Age Of Being Mortgage Free


Over four million mortgage holders “underestimated” the time it would take to be mortgage free in new reports by L&C Mortgages. L&C’s study highlights that as people get older, they become more realistic about when they will pay off their mortgage. The average 18-to-34-year-old believes they will be mortgage free by 51, 35-to-54-year olds think it will be paid off by 58, while those 55 and over on average think they will be borrowing into retirement age, paying it off by 68. Almost one in 10 (8%) of those over 55 stated they don’t think they’ll ever be mortgage free. Read more on 24housing.

Social Housing Report Calls For Massive Overhaul Of Tenants’ Rights

Sweeping new powers must be given to social tenants as part of an overhaul needed to ensure a Grenfell-style disaster never happens again according to a powerful cross-party commission. It found that social tenants are being failed by a system that leaves them waiting an average of eight months before their complaints are investigated, even when their safety could be at risk. The calls for a once-in-a-generation rethink of tenants’ rights come from the Social Housing Commission, a year-long investigation brought together by the charity Shelter following the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. Read more on the Observer website.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/05/tenants-rights-massive-overhaul-social-housing-commission-grenfell

DWP Agrees To Change Universal Credit Direct Payments Schedule

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed to alter the way it administers Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs), which see the housing costs element of Universal Credit channelled straight to landlords rather than being included in claimants’ monthly awards. APAs are currently paid over 13 four-weekly cycles throughout the year, despite being deducted from tenants’ Universal Credit claims on a monthly basis. This will change to a monthly cycle. Social landlords have complained this system is causing confusion because there is one four-week cycle where no APA money would be released. Read more on Inside Housing.
 https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/dwp-agrees-to-change-universal-credit-direct-payments-schedule-59623?utm_source=Housing60&utm_medium=email&utm_content=article_link&utm_campaign=H60

Thursday, 3 January 2019

400% Council Tax Hike Plan For Empty Home Owners


Empty home owners in Gloucester could face a 400% council tax rise as part of plans to help homeless families move out of temporary accommodation. Gloucester City Council says there are more than 150 families in temporary accommodation and 353 empty homes. Under the plans, homes empty for two years or more will see a 150% rise from April, while those empty for more than 10 years will see a 400% hike in 2021. The authority said it could raise £225,000 a year for services. Read more on the BBC website.

Councils ‘Ripped Off’ By Private Landlords


Desperate councils are being “ripped off” as private housing providers take advantage of the growing homeless population, experts have warned, after new figures revealed that local authorities’ spending on temporary accommodation had soared to almost £1bn. Analysis by the Guardian and the housing charity Shelter found that councils across England spent £997m on temporary accommodation in 2017-18, a 71% increase on the £584m in 2012-13. Some councils are spending as much as £200 per head of their population on sheltering homeless households. Housing policy experts said that the sharp rise in homelessness coupled with increasing charges from private providers were behind the increase. Read more on the Guardian website.

Just 5 Per Cent Of New Homes To Be Built With Government Money Will Be Most Affordable Type


Just 5 per cent of homes to be built with government money will be the most affordable type of housing despite the prime minister’s pledge to build a “new generation of social homes“, ministers have admitted. The government said only 12,500 of the 250,000 homes to be built with the affordable homes budget by 2022 will be social homes – equivalent to 2,500 per year. The other 237,500 are likely to be more costly “affordable homes”, which can be sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds or rented out at up to 80 per cent of full market value. Read more on the Independent website.

Why Industry Should Back Accessible Homes


The Home Builders Federation is discouraging councils from building inclusive housing. The Federation has advised at least 17 local authorities against setting mandatory targets for more accessible housing in new local planning policies, suggesting they could dent profits. It has also questioned whether predictions of an ageing population will mean there will be an increased demand for inclusive housing. This advice not only undermines planning aimed at mitigating the effects of profound demographic change that are expected to take over the next decade. It also denies the realities of today’s housing market. Only 7% of English homes achieve a basic level of accessibility. Read more on 24housing.

24,000 Homeless Families ‘Sent Miles From Local Area’


The number of homeless families forced to move away from their communities is at its highest for 20 years, as councils struggle to find accommodation for the growing numbers of people in need. According to official government figures, there were 23,640 families in temporary accommodation outside their local area in the second quarter of this year, the highest level in 20 years and more than double that recorded over the same period just five years ago. The new data has emerged amid rising anger over homelessness, with recent research showing that deaths among homeless people in England and Wales have increased every year since 2013, from 475 in 2014 to 597 last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Read more on the Observer website.

Landlords Welcome Room Size Guidance


Councils are getting new guidance on rented home room sizes – and landlords are making it welcome. Since October 2018, rooms used for sleeping by one person over 10 years old have had to be at least 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two people over 10 years old will have had to at least 10.22 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger have had to be at least 4.64 square metres. While the RLA believes that tenants should never face the dangers of overcrowded accommodation, it was concerned that the changes could have seen councils required to take action against landlords where a tenant gave birth and as a result there were two people in a room sized for one. Read more on 24housing.

Homeless People Given One-Way Tickets To Other Areas


Councils have given thousands of rough sleepers and homeless people one-way train, bus and flight tickets to leave areas and sometimes even to leave the country in the last four years, a Guardian investigation can reveal. The tickets were bought through “reconnection policies” that aim to encourage rough sleepers to voluntarily return to areas where they have family and support networks. It has been described as “street cleansing” and an abdication of responsibility by some campaigners and MPs. Data obtained by the Guardian shows for the first time that 6,810 travel tickets have been purchased across 83 councils in England and Wales since 2015. Read more on the Guardian website.

Osborne Denies Austerity Caused Homelessness Crisis


George Osborne has denied that “a lack of money” following his harsh austerity programme was the cause of Britain’s homelessness crisis. The former Conservative chancellor dismissed growing warnings that the severe spending cuts he introduced were behind the explosion in rough sleeping, saying: “No, I entirely reject that. It’s not a lack of money. That’s not a consequence of austerity – that’s just a consequence of bad policy,” Mr Osborne insisted. The denial came despite the revelation that child homelessness is at a 12-year high, with 123,600 minors in temporary accommodation in England – a 70 per cent rise since the Conservatives came into power. Read more on the Independent website.

MHCLG Linked To ‘Mega Ministry’ Merger


MHCLG could be merged into a new ‘mega-ministry’ under mooted government plans to save billions. Reports suggest such a ministry could be made up of MHCLG, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to focus on major infrastructure projects. The reports also pitch Departments for International Development, Exiting the EU and International Trade into the Foreign Office. Already, the Institute for Government has warned setting up new departments – considered in the context of the spending review – can incur huge costs.Read more on 24housing.

Housing Associations – Parliamentary Written Answer

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley: To ask Her Majesty's Government how many social homes they estimate were sold by housing associations during the last financial year.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 a total of 13,086 sales of social stock including: social rented general needs, supported housing, intermediate rent and Affordable Rent and Low Cost Home Ownership (LCHO) were reported by Private Registered Provider through the Regulator of Social Housings Statistical Data Return. 9,660 sales were to tenants through various home ownership schemes and 3,426 were sales for non-social housing use.
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2018-12-14/HL12321