Decline and fall

Coalition ministers rarely fail to taunt Labour with the fact that the number of affordable homes fell under the last government.

Conservative housing minister Mark Prisk and Lib Dem junior communities minister Don Foster deployed it yet again at DCLG questions yesterday.

Labour’s Jack Dromey attacked the government’s record on housebuilding and called for a rejection of the ‘economic illiteracy of austerity, which is pushing up the costs of failure through additional borrowing and soaring housing benefit bills’. He asked: ‘Does the housing minister agree that the time has come to invest in badly needed social and affordable homes to rent or buy, creating jobs and apprenticeships, bringing down the costs of failure and getting our economy moving?’

In response Foster was quick to deploy the favourite stat:

‘I think that the whole House will have been somewhat amused by the cheek of the hon. Gentleman, given that under his party’s administration we saw a reduction of 421,000 in the number of affordable homes. This government have introduced measures to reverse that trend, and we hope to announce further measures in the near future.’

 Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing

Second half

The coalition’s Mid-Term Review is as coy about what was billed as ‘the most radical reform of social housing in a generation’ as it is about what else will be done to tackle the biggest shortage of new homes in four generations.

The section of The Coalition: together in the national interest on Communities and Local Government is one of the shortest in the whole document. The five claims on what’s been done in the first half of the coalition may be many things but none of them involve housing.

Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing

Most popular posts 2012 Q4

These were the five most viewed posts on my blog in the fourth quarter of 2012. Best wishes to everyone for 2013.

1) Strivers and scroungers – David Cameron used housing as the divide line between Britain’s two nations

2) 10 things you may not know about the Beveridge report – Why Beveridge hated the term ‘welfare state’ despite writing the blueprint for it plus more to mark the 70th anniversary

3) End of her tether – more than just revenge for her sacking as former Lib Dem minister Sarah Teather attacks the government over the benefit cap

4) Caps, cuts and moving home – the toxic combination of welfare reform and the weakening of the homelessness legislation

5) Joining the dots on unemployment and welfare reform – why are we succeeding in getting people into work who don’t want to be and failing with people who do?

London mayor: 2

The London mayoral race is throwing up some interesting new ideas on how to tackle the housing crisis in the capital – but will they make any difference?

Thanks to the voting system (the supplementary vote, which gives people two votes in order of preference), the race is not just about Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, even if one of them will eventually become the mayor (see part one of my blog here). And, thanks to the mayor’s new powers over investment and land, housing policy features heavily in the manifestos of many of the other candidates too.

Read the rest of this post on my blog for Inside Housing here.

London mayor: 1

How much of a role will housing play in the election for the politician with the second most say over housing in England?

It’s easy to dismiss the London mayoral election as the Boris v Ken show, a contest between two big personalities and the current and former mayors. That’s understandable in view of media coverage dominated by who paid how much tax, what Boris called Ken in that lift and the people in that election broadcast that made Ken cry. However, that risks obscuring some fascinating ways in which housing is emerging as an issue in the election and some interesting new ideas from the candidates.

Read the rest of this post on my blog for Inside Housing here.

Sinking the Unsinkable, Chapter 6

The story so far: Overcrowded and behind schedule, with rebellious passengers and a mutinous crew, the RMS Torytanic continues her voyage. Despite the best efforts of assistant purser Shipps, Captain Cameron is starting to despair of ever finding a solution to the shortage of berths. Until, one day at the beginning of April…

Ship’s journal of Captain D.W.D Cameron, Esq, Monday April 2: It’s pointless to pretend anymore that my accommodation revolution is working, no matter how much Mr Shipps insists that all we have to do is challenge the lazy consensus. The passengers in steerage are crammed in like sardines and have turned the lifeboats into improvised dormitories. Something had to be done and that something is fortunately on time for its rendezvous. Read the rest of this entry »

Sinking the Unsinkable, Chapter 5

The story so far: The accommodation shortage is reaching crisis point aboard the RMS Torytanic despite a series of new initiatives by assistant purser Mr Shipps. Several icebergs have been spotted.

Ship’s journal of Captain D.W.D Cameron, Esq, Friday January 13: Some of the more superstitious passengers insisted on dining in their cabins this evening. I simply cannot understand their attitude when they are aboard a ship as well-appointed and unsinkable as the RMS Torytanic.
Read the rest of this entry »