Originally published on September 27 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Cuts in housing benefit are being blamed for a slump in the UK’s position in a European index of housing exclusion.
The UK was the biggest faller (down eight places) in the 2016 index and now ranks 20th out of 28 members of the European Union. The only countries doing worse than us are three in Southern Europe that were worst hit by the Eurozone crisis (Greece, Italy and Portugal) and five in Eastern Europe (Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia).
That puts us behind not just Scandinavian countries with more generous welfare states but also the rest of Western Europe and even Eastern European nations like Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland. The UK has the second biggest economy in the EU behind Germany.
Originally posted on August 24 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Something about the rash of stories this week about ‘private landlord subsidy’ left me feeling very uneasy.
The stories were based on a briefing from the National Housing Federation (NHF) on how the amount of housing benefit that goes to private tenants has doubled in the last decade. As reported in the Daily Mail and elsewhere that means ‘Private landlords rake in £9bn a year from Housing Benefit’.
The figures were mostly familiar ones about the big increases seen since the financial crisis in the total bill, the number of claimants and the number of private tenants who are in work and also on housing benefit.
David Orr argued:
‘It is madness to spend £9bn of taxpayers’ money lining the pockets of private landlords rather than investing in affordable homes.’
He’s right, it is madness. Yes, private landlords do get £9.3bn in housing benefit. Yes, the bill has doubled since 2008.
Originally posted on June 7 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
With the Housing and Planning Act safely in the bag, ministers must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves – and it shows.
Complaints about controversial parts of the act were swatted away again and again at Communities and Local Government (CLG) questions on Monday with a mix of barely concealed contempt and dodgy statistics. But there were also some reminders of issues that may prove more intractable than the legislation assumes and of one big problem that is about to come to a head.
Originally posted on April 4 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
You’d never guess it from the sound of the violins playing for Buy to Let but there were other significant changes to benefits and tax on housing this month.
As ‘investors’ rushed to beat the April 1 deadline for higher rates of stamp duty on second homes, the orchestra reached a crescendo after new affordability tests were proposed by the Bank of England.
All that noise meant much less was heard about their tenants facing up to the first year of an unprecedented four-year freeze in their local housing allowance and other benefits and tax credits.
After three years in which LHA increases were restricted to 1 per cent, housing benefit rates for private tenants will now stay the same until 2020. Whatever the problems faced by their landlords, that means tenants will inevitably see rising shortfalls between their benefit and their rent. Equally inevitably, you would think, evictions will rise.