Originally published on February 25 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
If the government provides Help to Buy for first-time buyers why not Help to Rent for homeless people?
A new campaign from Crisis says it is becoming harder and harder for homeless people to get a place to live because most landlords think it’s too risky to rent to them.
‘Home: No Less Will Do’ is supported by the leading private landlord associations and calls on ministers to give homeless people looking to rent the same kind of support as they offer first-time buyers and to introduce a Welsh-style homelessness prevention duty.
As things stand, they are caught in what Crisis calls the ‘homelessness trap’: the private rented sector may be their only hope of a home (especially if they are single) but they struggle with upfront costs; and welfare reforms are making landlords less likely to want to rent to them.
The potential consequences – and the timeliness of the campaign – are underlined in new figures published on Thursday showing that rough sleeping has risen by 30% in a year and has doubled since 2010.
Originally posted on February 16 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
If you believe Brandon Lewis, the Help to Buy equity loan scheme is a resounding success: it’s helped thousands of people to buy a home who could not have done otherwise; and it’s done it without inflating house prices.
But does an external evaluation for the Department for Communities and Local Government back up his claims? The good news for the housing minister is the central verdict that 43% of homes built under Help to Buy were additional and would not have been built without the scheme. And the report certainly has a positive conclusion:
‘Overall, the scheme has met its objectives in terms of increased housing supply. It has done this via a stimulus to demand which has fed through into an expansion of supply and with little evidence of a serious and destabilising impact on house prices.’
But look a little deeper and there is plenty of ammunition for critics of the scheme too. Most obvious is the flipside of that headline figure: if 57% of Help to Buy homes would have been built anyway, is that really a good use of the £9.7bn that the scheme is set to cost by 2020?
Originally published on January 9 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
This week’s Communities and Local Government questions featured rogue policies, rogue landlords and a rogue house builder.
Rogue policy number one is the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap and its impact on supported housing. As Labour MPs lined up to criticise it, housing minister Brandon Lewis pointed to the review expected in the spring and pledged:
‘The changes will come in in 2018, but we are very clear, and have always been very clear, that we will make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.’
That was not good enough for Labour’s Roberta Blackman-Woods, who quoted estimates by Newcastle-based Changing Lives about the losses it and other providers will suffer and argued that the discretionary fund will be inadequate. Lewis responded by pointing to the £400m of funding for new specialist affordable homes in the Spending Review (not much use if housing benefit won’t cover the rent) and the £5.3bn Better Care Fund (which is about health and social care, not housing).
But it was not good enough for Tory MP Peter Aldous either, who called for urgent clarity on whether the cap applies to homeless hostels and foyers. ‘If it does not, there is a real worry that many will close and that, as a result, there will be an unnecessary rise in the numbers of young homeless people.’
Originally posted on February 4 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
The person who sprang instantly to mind when I saw the promotional material for London Help to Buy on Twitter this week was Lizzie Magie (of whom more later).
The scheme offering 40% equity loans to buyers of new build property in London costing up to £600,000 was first announced in the Spending Review and formally launched this week. Here (thanks to Joe Sarling for drawing my attention to it) is the advert designed for digital media:
— Help to Buy (@helptobuy) February 3, 2016
The Angel, Islington, costs a little bit more than £100 these days and with studio apartments in one new development starting at £715,000 you can forget about building a house for £50 or renting one for £6. But you get the general idea: it seems that you can now get on the property ladder as easily as you can ‘Advance to Mayfair’ or ‘Go Back to Old Kent Road’.