Monday, 20 August 2018

A solution to our housing problems: build social housing

We could allow councils to build social housing:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems > allow councils to consolidate their assets under an urban wealth fund > to build social housing

And there are lots of ideas out there to make it possible:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build more council houses

The government has just published its proposals:
A new deal for social housing: Green paper | Planning Resource
Social housing green paper: a change in direction? | Insight | Property Week
Inside Housing - Comment - We need more than a week of delayed housing announcements from the government bundled together

And there are more ideas to consider: 

Tories push for land sales uplift to boost council home building

Think-tank’s plan would let local authorities buy agricultural land at market value

Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent 

Tory campaigners have urged ministers to shake up the planning system so that local authorities can capture the increase in the value of land when they win permission to build new homes.

Onward, a new Conservative think-tank set up by two former Downing Street advisers, sent a letter to housing secretary James Brokenshire on Monday, co-signed by 15 different housing campaign groups and think-tanks, including Shelter, the homelessness charity, and the National Housing Federation.

The signatories are calling for reform to the 1961 Land Compensation Act, which only allows councils to buy agricultural land at speculative “hope” values, which are calculated as if properties already have planning permission and can often be 100 times more expensive than the original value of that land before permission was attained.

Under the think-tank’s proposals, local authorities would instead be able to purchase agricultural land at a market value, and use the uplift created by securing planning permission to invest in affordable housing and local infrastructure.

Many Conservatives see high house prices as detrimental to their party’s future electoral chances, as young voters increasingly back the opposition Labour party, in part over frustration about the property market. Earlier this year, Onward proposed removing tax breaks for landlords to help first-time housebuyers...
Ministers ‘should axe laws that give landowners huge profits’ to end Britain’s housing crisis, campaigners claim
Under the shocking 1961 Land Compensation Act, Town Halls have to pay up to 100 times the value of the land if they want to develop housing on the site

By Harry Cole, Westminster Correspondent
20th August 2018

LAWS which hand vast profits to fat cat landowners should be ripped up to end Britain’s homes crisis, campaigners say. The 1961 Land Compensation Act forces councils to pay up to 100 times the value of land they want to develop for housing. 
It means farmers and other speculators can pocket millions of pounds in taxpayers’ cash without sticking a shovel in the ground, say housing groups. 

The law needs rewriting so councils pay less and still have cash to build community facilities such as schools and parks alongside new homes, the campaigners claim. It would also mean “less opposition to new development and much better infrastructure”, they have told Housing Minister James Brokenshire...

Talk of landlord ‘league tables’ is a deliberate distraction. The only thing that will fix this crisis is build more social housing

Martha Gill
Tue 14 Aug 2018 

When she first came to power Theresa May promised to address Britain’s “burning injustices”. A few weeks ago, MPs were asked to quietly drop the phrase. Tied up in the complications of Brexit, the government has done very little to help the poor and disadvantaged – those who voted in protest against their own circumstances in the referendum. Neglecting this group has not helped past governments, and this one seems to be making the same mistake.

A new green paper on social housing seems unlikely to buck the trend. It recognises that there is a problem with social housing, but fails to recognise the nature of that problem: that there simply needs to be more of it. Instead, it talks about making social housing “fairer”, and “better quality”, and “challenging the stereotypes that exist about residents and their communities”. It says, rather patronisingly, that no social housing tenant should feel a “stigma” about their situation. That is not the pressing issue.

There are almost 1.2 million people on the waiting list for social housing. As they wait, people are forced to pay rent they cannot afford, and as a consequence they cannot afford to buy food. It is no coincidence that the use of food banks in Britain is soaring. But the government is doing little to help. Experts say we need between 70,000 and 90,000 new homes for social housing a year to meet the need in England. Last year fewer than 6,000 were built – a record low. And there are no new funds in the offing to increase supply.

Instead, the green paper concentrates on initiatives such as league tables for social landlords, which it says will “rebalance the landlord/tenant relationship”. But even this is unlikely to work. With such a short supply of social housing, landlords at the bottom of the league aren’t going to suffer from a lack of interest. Neither is it going to be easy for social tenants to flit between houses, depending on their ratings. And social landlords aren’t really a problem either, as these tend to be housing associations or local councils, and bound by professional codes and regulations. Much more dubious are the amateur landlords in the private sector – able to chuck tenants out on a whim – which is where people end up when they cannot get social housing...

The Tories’ housing plans will solve nothing – we need to build more | Martha Gill | Opinion | The Guardian

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