Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Housing First ‘Could Save City Regions £4m’

A study shows using the Housing First method saves money on long-term homelessness. Policymakers are being called upon to get long-term rough sleepers into their own home as quickly as possible – with the Housing First approach shown to be five times as effective as existing services. The study looks at the potential costs and benefits of rolling out Housing First across the Liverpool City Region, drawing on existing evidence as well as new statistical analysis and interviews with nearly 100 professionals and 79 people with experience of homelessness. The report shows how Housing First could deliver savings for cities and local authorities right across the UK, with potential savings for Liverpool City Region estimated at between £1.18m and £4.02m per year by 2023/24. Read more on 24housing.

Court Orders Criminalising Homeless

Court orders being imposed on homeless people are "criminalising those most in need," a charity has said. Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) give courts powers including banning people from areas or from drinking in public. But charity Homeless Link said CBOs, which replaced anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), prevented homeless people from accessing vital services. The Home Office said local agencies must determine whether their use of their powers was appropriate. Read more on the BBC website.

Housing: Construction – Parliamentary Written Answer

Mike Kane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what proportion of successful applications to the Home Building Fund have been submitted by builders delivering less than 100 units per year since the introduction of that fund.

Alok Sharma: The £3 billion Home Building Fund provides long and short term loan finance to build the homes this country needs. To date the fund has allocated £1.181 billion (40 per cent) to successful applicants. Of the £1 billion short term fund £0.445 billion (44 per cent) has been allocated to successful applicants. The proportion of schemes which will be delivered by small and medium sized builders is 70 per cent. Of which, nearly 90 per cent of these sites have fewer than 100 homes.

Popularity Of 35-Year Mortgages Is 'Storing Up Problems For The Future'

The rising popularity of 35-year mortgages could be storing up problems for the future, the Bank of England’s deputy governor has warned. As house prices have surged, a growing number of borrowers are being forced to spread home loans over a longer period than the traditional 25 years. Almost 16 per cent of all mortgages now last 35 years or more, against less than 3 per cent in 2005. The Bank is worried that many people taking out these loans will still be paying them off after retirement. Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Rural Homelessness 'Hidden Crisis'

The “hidden crisis” of rural homelessness requires urgent attention from the government, a leading thinktank has said after research revealed a dramatic rise in the number of rough sleepers in countryside areas in the last five years. The Institute for Public Policy Research warned that it is particularly hard to prevent or relieve because of the difficulties in covering larger areas and the lack of specialist resources compared to cities. It said the number of people sleeping rough in barns, outhouses and parked cars in rural areas had risen by up to 32% between 2010 and 2016. Read more on the Guardian website.

Construction Output Suffers Sharpest Fall For Five Years

The run-up to the General Election saw the largest three-month drop in construction output for five years, according to latest official figures. New figures for May showed all work output slipped by 1.2% month-on-month, driven mainly by a 4% fall in infrastructure, equating to a real value fall of £61m. The only sector to show growth was social housing, up £6% or £21m in cash terms. The Office of National Statistics three-month trend figures also slipped back 1.2%, which represented the sharpest fall for five years, albeit after a sustained period of growth. This fall was driven mainly by infrastructure and private new housing, which dropped 1.3% and 1.8% respectively. Read more on the Construction Enquirer website.

Delay To Supported Housing Green Paper A ‘Blow’

The Supported Housing Green Paper looks set to be delayed again as the government focuses on the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. The government was due to publish the paper in the spring, but it is likely this will be delayed, with some sources pointing toward being after summer recess. Angela Lockwood, vice chair at PlaceShapers, said the “clock is ticking” to find a solution to the funding problem. She said: “We fully understand and support the government’s priority on Grenfell which was unprecedented and devastating. However the repeated delays to the Green Paper is a blow to those housing associations providing supported housing.” Read more on 24housing.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Calls For Universal Credit Rollout To Be Paused

The rollout of Universal Credit should be paused until significant problems with it are fixed, says Citizens Advice. In a major new report - Delivering on Universal Credit - the charity reveals that the requirement to wait for six weeks to receive any payment means people face serious financial insecurity, with many being forced into debt. The research also identifies a wide range of administrative challenges, including problems with the online system and long waits to get help over the phone, which can make the initial six week wait even longer. Download the report from the CAB website.

A Third Of Homes With Planning Permission Yet To Be Built

Nearly one in three homes green-lit to be built in England during the past five years have not been completed, Shelter has found. More than 320,000 homes have not been built despite having been granted residential planning permission, according to analysis by the housing charity, which said ordinary working families are bearing the brunt of the issue of "phantom homes".  An estimated 68% of homes with planning permission have been completed over the past five years, Shelter calculated. It said the problem is particularly acute in London, where around one in two homes with permission have not been built. Read more on the AOL website.

Plea For Government To End Sidelining Of Rural Housing

The Rural Coalition has issued a statement, identifying the key principles, policies and actions which the new government must apply to secure a ‘living, working countryside’ and give rural communities a sustainable future. These include a planning system and funding regime that delivers a meaningful increase in the number of affordable homes outside of towns and cities, fair distribution of funding between urban and rural areas for all services including healthcare and transport, and an industrial strategy that realises the potential of rural areas. Read more on 24housing.

Homeowners And New Buyers Face Sky-High Fees

Homeowners and new buyers are being warned of soaring mortgage fees with precious little to justify them as an interest rate price war rumbles on. Competition in the mortgage market has reached full throttle, with borrowers seeing some of the lowest rates on record, especially when it comes to fixed rate home loans – the deals buyers are being urged to move to before the Bank of England base rate starts to rise and borrowing costs increase. But lenders looking for new ways to boost their bottom line are countering the race to the bottom for interest rates with higher fees elsewhere. Read more on the Independent website.

Councils' Discretionary Payment Spend On Benefit Cap Doubles

Data released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that councils spent £29.7m of DHP money assisting people affected by the benefit cap in 2016/17, compared with £14.1m in 2015/16. From November last year, the benefit cap was reduced from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere. A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed the lower benefit cap was pushing people out of the private rented sector and a number of housing associations have said they are less likely to let to people hit by the lower benefit cap. Read more on Inside Housing.

Self And Custom Build Homes Market On The Rise

The UK’s self and custom build housing market has recorded its third consecutive annual rise, according to new research. The market is growing at 6.25 per cent year on year, information provider Homebuilding and Renovating has suggested. At its current pace, the sector is estimated to reach 16,500 home completions by 2020. The three-year forecast indicates an industry growth of 41 per cent, valuing the sector at £6 billion. The forecast, Homebuilding and Renovating said, reinforces the sector’s strategic role in contributing to government housebuilding targets. Read more on the Planning Portal.

Two Thirds Of Landlords Pay Basic Rate Tax

Two thirds of individual landlords are only liable for the basic rate of income tax according to data released by the government. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says that it challenges the myth that landlords are wallowing in vast sums of money and so can cope with tax rises. According to the figures obtained in response to parliamentary questions from DUP MP, Jim Shannon, of the just over 1.9 million unincorporated individual landlords returning a self-assessment tax return, two thirds were in the basic rate bracket, thirty per cent were in the higher rate band and four per cent paid the additional rate. Read more on the RLA website.

How To Solve The UK's Housing Crisis

The government should let councils buy land, grant it planning permission and then sell it off to help solve the UK's housing crisis, according to a report by think tank Adam Smith Institute (ASI). The president of the think tank and the report’s author Madsen Pirie said that devolving power to local councils could help yield £30bn to pay for public services. One of the estimates the study cited showed that an acre of land was worth £2,500 without planning permission and £4m with it. "By granting permission to land they own, councils can capture the monetary benefits for themselves and their residents," the ASI said. Read more on the City AM website.

Rents Continue To Fall

·         Rents in the UK fell by 0.3% in June compared to the same month a year ago, the second month in row in which rents fell; the average monthly rent now stands at £908
·         Rents in London fell by 2.6% in June this year compared to June 2016; the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at £1,524
·         HomeLet’s June Rental Index reveals that rents fell in five of the 12 UK regions covered in the research

Read more on the Homelet website.

CLG Urged To Back New National Tenant Voice

Taroe Trust, CCH, NFTMO and Tpas met at the CIH Housing Conference to make the call for a single national tenant voice in a letter to CLG – shared with a long list of stakeholders. All four agree that work now being done to ensure the safety of social housing tenants demonstrates the need for a ‘coherent, legitimate and empowered’ voice for tenants, so that they can communicate directly with government and other agencies about a wide range of issues. The letter cites the proposals of professor Martin Cave – in his report Every Tenant Matters released 10 years ago – that a single voice should enable tenants to be heard in government. Read more on 24housing.

Council Leader Calls For Affordable Housing Tariff

The Government should give local authorities the power to impose tariffs on developers to provide cash for more affordable housing, according to the leader of Westminster City Council. Cllr Nickie Aiken urged Whitehall to allow councils to institute ‘a locally-set charge paid on net increases in floor space’. This would allow the council to charge developers to help ease the burden they place on local infrastructure, he said. It would also help raise funds for affordable housing. Cllr Aiken compared the scheme to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and section 106 planning obligations which contribute towards the creation of sustainable communities and mitigate the negative aspects of developments. Read more on the LocalGov website.

Buy-To-Let Crackdown

Buy-to-let investors are braced for another assault as the Bank of England prepares to impose yet more rules on private landlords. In two months’ time the Prudential Regulation Authority, part of the Bank of England, will start to enforce tougher standards for landlords with four or more mortgaged properties. The change means that, for the first time, lenders may be forced to look at a landlord’s entire portfolio when they decide what mortgage deal they can offer on a single property. They may want to see proof of rental income and a business plan to support a new application. Read more on the Daily Telegraph website.

Capital Gains Tax On All Homes Needed

The government needs to implement a root-and-branch overhaul of the way housing is taxed and regulated to address the ‘crisis’ facing young people as they struggle to buy or rent property, a new book proposes. In addition to greatly increasing the supply of social housing, ministers should introduce a capital gains tax on the sale of all homes, carry out long-overdue reforms to council tax so that owners of large houses pay more, and regulate the rental sector much more actively. These are central arguments of ‘The Crisis for Young People: Generational Inequalities in Education, Work, Housing and Welfare’, a new book by professor Andy Green of UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Read more on 24housing.

Tax Change Hits Landlord Confidence

Landlords’ confidence in the UK has fallen as they face the prospect of higher tax costs and weakening house prices, although rents are climbing, pushing up yields, the latest research shows. Just 41% of landlords are confident about the prospects for their portfolios, following the recent taxation and regulatory changes, according to the sixth edition of Kent Reliance’s Buy to Let Britain survey report. This represents a fall from 44% in the previous quarter, and compares to 67% seen three years ago. Political and economic uncertainty will only add to landlords’ concerns, the report points out. Read more on the Property Wire website.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Government Housing Schemes Have Little Impact On Social Mobility

Flagship government schemes to help more people get on the UK housing ladder have little impact on improving social mobility as better-off buyers are most likely to benefit from the support. A new report published by the Social Mobility Commission into the impact of low-cost home ownership schemes found that those benefitting from schemes - such as Help to Buy - earn more than one and a half times the national working age median income. Around 3 in 5 first-time buyers said that they would have bought anyway and that the scheme merely enabled them to buy a better property, or one in a better area, than they were originally looking for. Download the report from the Gov UK website.

Social Landlords Call For Clarity On Cladding Safety

Social landlords have called for “greater clarity” over whether Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panels on tower blocks could be safe despite failing the government’s combustibility test. The government said its independent expert fire safety panel will consider “early next week” whether ACM panels can be used safely as part of a wider external wall system “and therefore could remain on a building under certain approved circumstances”. Grenfell Tower was believed to have ACM panels with a polyethylene core. A number of landlords have already torn down cladding from their tower blocks after it failed the government’s combustibility test. Read more on Inside Housing.

One In Seven Private Renters Spend Half Their Income On Rent

A shortage of affordable housing is leaving a generation stuck in a “rental logjam”, warns the Local Government Association (LGA). Analysis shows that almost one in seven private renters (14 per cent) are spending more than half of their total income on rent. Local government leaders said the figures highlight the difficulties renters face not just in finding an affordable home to live in, but in saving up a deposit for a home of their own, with the average deposit now costing 71 per cent of a first time buyer’s annual income.   The LGA is calling for the Government to enable the building of a new wave of rented homes that reflect what families can actually afford – no more than a third of total household incomes. Read more on the LGA website.

Cladding Crisis Deepens As 181 Towers Fail Tests

The deepening national crisis has left the onus on councils and building owners to decide whether they should remove cladding rather than receiving any expert Government advice. Now the advisory body headed by Sir Ken Knight, the former government chief fire and rescue adviser, aims to set out clearer guidance for owners and the industry. The move comes as 181 tower blocks in 51 local authority areas are now known to have failed fire cladding safety tests. This new total represent a 100% of all panels tested as part of the national safety operation to identify buildings with cladding similar to Grenfell tower. Read more on Construction Enquirer.

Britain 'Is On The Brink Of The Worst House Price Collapse Since 1990s'

House prices are teetering on the brink of a crash that could be as bad as the bust of the early 1990s, a leading expert has warned. There are already warning signs that prices are heading towards a near 40 per cent plunge, warns Paul Cheshire, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics. It raises the alarming spectre of the return of ‘negative equity’ – when a house falls so far in value it is worth less than the mortgage – which hit one million people at the worst point in the 1990s. Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Where Have All The Movers Gone?

Before the recession, there were about 1.6 million home sales a year in the UK, which plummeted to 860,000 in 2009 but has since recovered to around 1.2 million. New research suggests that the shortfall is largely the result of "missing movers" - mortgaged home-owners not moving up the housing ladder. The CML commissioned research which suggests that "missing movers" account for about 320,000 of the annual housing transaction shortfall. There are a number of reasons for the decline, including the fact that there are now fewer mortgaged owners, and they tend to be older and so naturally less likely to move. However, there are still around 140,000 missing moves that can be attributed to a decline in the rates of moving among mortgaged home-owners. Read more on the CML website.

House Prices To Stay High Forever

House prices are likely to stay at high levels and potentially keep on rising over the coming decades, as big economic and demographic trends show no sign of letting up, according to a former Bank of England policymaker. Prices have rocketed far ahead of incomes since the 1970s and the gap is not expected to close, said David Miles, now a professor at Imperial College London. Population growth, combined with the scarcity of housing, is one factor driving in rises. Until the 1970s improved transport systems allowed more people to commute longer distances into cities for work, effectively opening up more land to use for housing - but that process ground to a halt, constraining available land and driving up prices. Read more on the Daily Telegraph website.

Housing In Crisis But Government Can Do Something

Three-quarters of Britons think that there is a national housing crisis according to research for the CIH’s annual conference.
Undertaken before the Grenfell tragedy, the survey found 82% agree that “everyone should have a right to be able to live in a decent quality home whether or not they own it”. Only 5% disagree.
The survey also found:
·         The public largely reject the notion that there is “isn’t much that British Governments can do to solve country’s housing problems”
·         buying/renting is harder than it was for their parents’ generation
·         there is not enough affordable housing to buy/rent locally,
·         Confidence that the Government has the right policies to deal with the country’s housing problems remains low

Read more on the Ipsos Mori website.

Associations Blame Brexit For Fall In Completions

The number of homes built by the 50 biggest associations dropped by 3.4%, from 31,988 to 30,906. This was a less dramatic fall than the previous year, when numbers fell by 20%. This compares to more thorough data covering 82% of housing associations released in May by the National Housing Federation, which showed associations started 47,709 homes of all tenures and completed 38,082 in the year to April 2017. This was a rise of 13% in terms of starts and a fall of 5% in completions. Many in the sector remain optimistic, though, predicting more completions for the coming year than they did in last year’s survey. Overall, the top 50 expect to build 38,005 homes in 2017/18. Sites are secured on 91% of these. Read more on Inside Housing.

Right to Buy Scheme – Parliamentary Written Answer

Stephen McPartland: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to extend right to buy to local authority-owned garages; and if he will make a statement.

Alok Sharma: [Holding answer 27 June 2017]: Local authority tenants who have garages included in their secured tenancy have the right to buy their garage when they exercise the Right to Buy. If a garage is not in the tenancy the landlord may decide whether to sell.

Right To Buy ‘Devastating’ Social Housing Stock, New Figures Reveal

Council homes are being sold off almost three times faster than local authorities can replace them. Freedom of Information requests to 72 councils found more than 12,000 council houses have been sold off since 2014, to a cost of over £930m, while only 4,309 were built over the same time period. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron — whose party issued the FoI requests — said  ‘The Government talked a lot about replacing council housing one for one but this has been shown to be utter fantasy.’ A spokesman from the CLG denied the Government promised to replace every Right to Buy sale. They said it was ‘only additional sales’ above the original forecasted baseline that should be replaced one for one, adding it was up to councils to use the receipts from Right to Buy sales for new homes. Download the latest RTB figures from the Gov.UK website.

Help To Buy Helps More Than 240,000 First-Time Buyers

At least 240,000 first-time buyers have been able to purchase a home using Help to Buy, according to government statistics. The Help to Buy: ISA has in total helped more than 960,000 people save towards their own home, according to the government. The statistics also suggest that at least 285,000 completions have taken place using one or more of the Help to Buy schemes, with 90 per cent of them taking place outside of London. More than 240,000 first-time buyers have purchased their first home using the schemes. The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme has seen more than 120,000 completions. This scheme offers buyers up to 20 per cent of a newly built home’s costs so they only need a 5 per cent deposit. Read more on the Planning Portal.

Consultation On Plan To End Homelessness

Crisis has launched a consultation to find out what’s needed to end the worst forms of homelessness once and for all. The consultation invites people working in or with experience of homelessness and those working in related fields such as housing, criminal justice, education, welfare and health to share their expertise and help shape a national plan for action. The consultation - Have Your Say on a Plan to End Homelessness - aims to identify the practical solutions needed to prevent and end homelessness in Britain, particularly focussing on those groups in most immediate need of support. The resulting plan will be developed throughout the year and will be published in April 2018 with the aim of involving national and local government, charities and public services. Read more on the Crisis website.

Confidence In Housing Market Declines After Election Result

Consumer confidence in the housing market dipped in the days following the General Election, a survey has found. Just over one in five (21%) people think now is a good time to buy a home, down from 29% in March, according to research from the Building Societies Association (BSA). The survey took place four days after the election. Nearly a third (30%) of people in the survey disagree that now is a good time to buy a home - the highest figure since 37% of people felt this way in December 2008. Nearly a quarter (23%) said they expect prices to fall, up from 10% in March. Read more on the Belfast Telegraph website.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Rents Soar Well Above Wages

Rents in England have soared at a rate well above earnings, leaving renters struggling to cope, analysis by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows. The CIH compared Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on rent rises between May 2011 and 2017 with data on rising wages from the Bank of England over the same period. It showed wages had risen by 10.4% across England, well below the 14.6% growth in rents. The worst affected area was London, where rents have soared 21.6% compared with wage growth of just 6.3%. Read more on Inside Housing.

Housing Crisis Threatens A Million Families With Eviction By 2020

More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s escalating housing crisis. The study by the homelessness charity Shelter shows that rising numbers of families on low incomes are not only unable to afford to buy their own home but are also struggling to pay even the lowest available rents in the private sector, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness. Download the report from the Shelter website.

House Sales Surge Due To Interest-Only Worries

New research from equity release referral service, Key Partnerships, has revealed that many homeowners are being forced to sell their homes to pay off interest-only mortgages ahead of looming repayment deadlines. The report found that more than two out of five estate agents (43%) say the number of customers forced to sell to pay off interest-only mortgage debts has increased over the past two years. Mortgage debt issues are particularly affecting older customers trying to downsize to less expensive houses to release cash. Key’s research found 73% would-be downsizers are paying off mortgages. Estate agents are regularly asked for advice and guidance on mortgages and remortgages by clients – 58% say clients want support on mortgages. Read more on the property reporter website.

Council Wins Landmark Affordable Housing Case

Islington Council has won a landmark case that could stop developers across the country skimping on their affordable housing offering. The Planning Inspectorate, an independent regulator, upheld the town hall’s refusal of planning permission for a site on grounds the project did not provide the “maximum reasonable amount” of affordable homes. First Base Ltd applied to build 96 homes but the bid contained no affordable housing at all. Islington’s target is 50 per cent, but policy dictates developers must build as many as possible. The council rejected the bid twice and now its appeal  has also been dismissed. The decision centred around how the viability of the development was assessed and how the price of the land should be determined. Read more on the Islington Gazette website.

Housing Benefit: The Black Hole That Continues To Grow

Since 2011, as benefits have been cut back, a black hole has started to appear in our welfare system for private renters. This black hole is the widening gap between housing benefit and rents at the very cheapest end of the private rental market. This is because while housing benefit rates for private renters have been frozen by the government, private rents have continued to climb. We calculate that if something doesn’t change before 2019/20, the gap between housing benefit rates and local rents will have grown so much that the black hole in Britain will be worth £1.9billion. More than one million people will be affected by this. And few have the resources to sustainably cover the increasing shortfalls. Read more on the Huffington Post website.

Council Homes Sold Off Almost Three Times As Fast As New Ones Are Built

Council homes are being sold off almost three times faster than local authorities can replace them, new analysis has revealed, with some local authorities selling 20 times the number of homes that were built in three years. Analysis of figures from 72 councils who responded to freedom of information requests found the mass selloff has raised more than £930m from the sale of more than 12,000 council houses since 2014. In those boroughs, just 4,309 houses were built in the same time. Read more on the Guardian website.

General Election Hurt Demand And House Prices

The National Association of Estate Agents says the General Election led to a drop in the number of registered house hunters per branch by eight per cent in May - and it also reports a sharp fall in the number of homes selling above asking price. The NAEA says the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell from an average of 381 in April to 350 in May - “unsurprising as political uncertainty ahead of the election stalled buyers” says the association. Only three per cent of properties sold for more than asking price in May, down four per cent from April and the lowest level since October. Read more on Letting Agent Today.

Every Tower Block Checked So Far Fails Fire Tests

So far every sample of cladding from high-rise buildings that officials have tested has failed tests for combustibility, raising the prospect of many more mass tenant evacuations with hundreds of more buildings still to be checked. As a result of the test findings Salford Council has given the go-ahead to start removing aluminium composite cladding on nine high rise blocks in the Pendleton area of the city. The Government has also stressed that the failure in testing of the cladding would not necessarily mean that a building would have to be evacuated. Local authorities have been told to only consider evacuations where there is the most serious risk. Read more on Construction Enquirer.

Homelessness Surges 34% Under Tory Government

The number of families being declared homeless has rocketed by more a third since the Conservatives took power in 2010, analysis of new official statistics has revealed.  Between April 2016 and March 2017, 59,100 families were declared homeless by local authorities in England – a rise of 34 per cent on the same period in 2010-11. The statistics paint a bleak picture of the UK housing crisis and the impact a lack of decent, affordable homes is having on thousands of families. There has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of families being housed in insecure temporary accommodation. Read more on the Independent website.

Era Of Cheap Mortgages Is Almost Over

Mortgage rates have hit rock bottom and can only go up, the Council of Mortgage Lenders has warned. Households are currently benefiting from the cheapest home loans on record after a fierce mortgage price war between lenders. This has caused a surge in remortgaging as families across the country rushed to snap up cheaper deals. It has also helped more first-time buyers get on the property market. These two groups have driven the housing market as a slowdown in house price rises, and falls in parts of the country, have made existing homeowners reluctant to sell. But the CML suggested the era of record low mortgages may be coming to an end. Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Benefit Cap On Lone Parents Of Under-Twos Is Unlawful

The government’s policy of imposing the benefit cap on tens of thousands of lone parents with children under the age of two is unlawful, discriminatory and has resulted in “real damage” to the families affected, the high court has ruled. The benefit cap, which limits the total amount households can receive in benefits to £20,000 a year, or £23,000 in Greater London, was envisaged as an “incentive” to persuade unemployed people to move into work. However, Mr Justice Collins said in his judgment that the policy visited “real misery to no good purpose” on lone parents with very young children who were subject to the cap despite there being no official requirement for them to find work. Read more on the Guardian website.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Number Of Homeless In Temporary Accommodation Up 61%

“Worrying” homelessness statistics show that the number of households accepted by local authorities as statutory homeless is on the rise. The data reveals that between 1 January and 31 March 2017 local authorities accepted 14,600 households as being statutorily homeless, up 1% on the previous quarter and down 1% on the same quarter last year. Households in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2017 was 77,240, up 8% on a year earlier, and up 61% on the low of 48,010 on 31 December 2010. There were 6,590 households living in bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation, an increase of 11% from 5,960 as at 31 March 2016. Of these 3,010 (46%) had dependent or expected children. Read more on Welfare Weekly.

Alarming Decline in Homes for Rent

The UK property rental market has seen a worrying slump of 11.6% in available stock over the last six years. Scotland has seen the most dramatic fall, with a 34.7% decrease in available properties to rent between July 2011 and June 2017. In Wales over the same period there has been a fall of 28.1% while the South West has seen a decline of 26.5%.In total, seven out of 11 UK regions saw a fall in excess of the UK-wide average. This includes a decrease of 24.6% in the East Midlands, a fall of 20.8% in the South East and a drop of 16.7% in the West Midlands. The supply of available stock in East Anglia has dropped by 11.9% since 2011. Read more on the Housingnet website.

Lettings Fees To Be Banned

More than six months after first suggesting the idea, the government has announced plans to ban fees to lettings agents in England. A new Tenants' Fees Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech, which will stop tenants having to pay money to agents. The commitment was announced by the Conservatives in the 2016 Autumn Statement. ARLA Propertymark, which represents letting agents, said the new rules would cost 4,000 jobs. However the measure is likely to pass into law, as all the main parties had it in their election manifestos. Read more on the BBC website.

Government Urged To ‘Rip Up’ Housing Policy To Help Grenfell Survivors

Jayesh Kunwardia, partner at London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen says he has become “increasingly concerned” that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has yet to explain how its current homelessness policy will apply to the hundreds of people it now has to house. He says: “I’ve already spoken to a number of former Grenfell Tower residents who have refused RBKC’s offer of temporary accommodation outside of the borough and have opted to stay with family or friends instead. “However, by doing so, this means that under the council’s current policy, RBKC could now refuse to accept a duty to house them under the Housing Act as they have made themselves “intentionally homeless. Read more on 24housing.