Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
87 posts
Pouring oil on troubled waters ?

By the tankerload apparently :

https://www.theguardian.com/housing-net ... melessness

Even social housing is unaffordable now in some parts of England.

Councils are under pressure as homelessness grows and housing options dwindle, our report shows.

The government’s squeeze on poorer households means that now, shockingly, even social housing is unaffordable for some households on benefits.

Our annual Homelessness Monitor report, published on 12 April by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, finds that councils across the country support the aims of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, but face mounting pressures as they grapple with their new duties.

The act, which came into force in England on 3 April, is the most radical new legislation on homelessness for 40 years. For the first time, single homeless people have clear entitlement to help from local authorities to prevent and relieve their homelessness.

Official statistics indicate that statutory homelessness has reached a plateau at a level almost 50% higher than when the coalition government came to power, but two-thirds (67%) of councils report that in fact the numbers seeking help from their homelessness services has continued to rise. Our report shows that almost all local authorities (93%) think the full roll-out of universal credit will make homelessness even worse in their area over the next couple of years.

Growing pressure on temporary accommodation, and a sharp rise in B&B placements in particular (up by 250% since 2009), reflect a dramatic shrinkage in the settled housing options available to local councils. As one expert told us, the real problem is “the supply side has fallen off a cliff”. So councils are just not able to move homeless households on.

Rising rents coupled with frozen local housing allowance rates mean private tenancies are simply out of reach for low-income households in many parts of the country. An overwhelming majority of English councils (89%) report difficulties assisting homeless applicants into the private rented sector, with many saying that this is now almost impossible.

t the same time, 70% of local authorities and 93% of London boroughs struggle to secure social tenancies for homeless households. This is hardly surprising: the long-term effects of right to buy and inadequate new supply mean social sector lettings are running at historically low levels, and fell sharply, by 11%, just in the last year. Benefit caps and freezes have now bitten so deep that even properties let at social rent levels can be unaffordable to claimant households.

The government has faced official criticism, from the National Audit Agency and MPs, respectively, about its “light touch” and “unacceptably complacent” approach to homelessness. This hands-off approach is a direct consequence of the policies introduced by the coalition government in 2011.

Theresa May’s government now has the chance to rectify this by showing the national leadership required to give local authorities the means to deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act.

Recent reversals of planned further cuts to housing allowances for social tenants and for those aged under 22 provide hopeful signs of willingness to step up to this challenge, and the forthcoming social housing green paper presents a key opportunity to deliver a major change in the supply of social homes.

If the government were also to lift the local housing allowance freeze, making private tenancies again a realistic option for those on the lowest incomes, it could begin to address the burning injustice of a homelessness crisis that is the predictable consequence of welfare and housing policies since 2010.

" To eat or to heat ? " ... perhaps now safe to add ... " ... or to keep a roof over my head ? "

And , as regular readers will know , the housing crisis is only getting worse , day by day for some.
So much for the Government's response to " Affordable " homes and the present planning laws ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... le-housing

Overhaul of planning rules ‘threatens to reduce supply of affordable housing.’

Charity Shelter warns ministers new rules might let developers reduce commitments to cheaper forms of property.

Ministers have been warned that an overhaul of planning rules could cut the amount of affordable housing even further, despite Theresa May’s pledge to take “personal charge” of solving the housing crisis.

Serious concerns have emerged that an updated version of the government’s planning laws appears to alter the definition of what counts as “affordable housing” in a way that could make it less affordable.

The updated draft National Planning Policy Framework contains a new definition that has removed any direct reference to the most affordable type of property, known as social rented housing. However, it does include types of housing, such as shared ownership and starter homes, that cost far more.

Social rented housing is owned by local authorities and private registered providers and is let out to those most in need. Rents are on average about half the market value.

Housing charity Shelter is raising the concerns in an official submission to the government’s consultation on the updated document. It also fears it will increase the use of “viability assessments”, which allow developers to limit contributions to infrastructure and affordable housing.

It comes amid growing evidence of an unaffordable housing market for many. Last week official figures showed workers faced paying 7.8 times their annual earnings to buy a home last year, up 2.4% since 2016.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “There is still time to tighten up these rules by closing the viability loophole and strengthening the official definition of affordable housing. Without this, the prime minister’s attempts to get tough on developers and ease the housing crisis will be at serious risk of failure.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation charity, said: “These changes risk constricting a supply which is already hugely compromised, and those homes that are built are often not genuinely affordable for the people who need them.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that, while social rent housing was not specifically mentioned, it was regarded as part of the definition.

“We have ambitious plans to deliver the affordable housing this country needs – including homes for social rent. Our proposed new planning rules make crystal clear that councils should be planning for all types of affordable homes in their area.”

Shelter / Joseph Rowntree Foundation ... the Government ... who would you believe ???

Two towns I have recently visited ... Gainsborough ( LIncs. ) and Castleford ( West Yorkshire ) ... massive building programs transforming both ... private housing estates ... £ 150k for a glorified 2 up / 2 down with a pocket hankerchief for a garden ... both towns have higher unemployment than the national average , the minimum wage being the norm.

In essense , " Commuter BeltlLand " ... live in a cheaper area , work in another ... local economy hardly benefits beyond the multiples , including the supermarkets !!!

Madness ... sheer madness !!!

Local builders on a tea break awaiting the tide to turn ?

Flood insurance quotes should be " Interesting ? "

Each house will come with a free mooring ?
The fallout from Grenfell continues ... and yet more delay in preventing similar disasters !

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... e-cladding

MPs urge government to release cash for removal of Grenfell-style cladding.

Legal disputes over who should pay to refit buildings which failed fire tests delaying works.

MPs have called on the government to urgently release cash to accelerate the removal of combustible Grenfell-style cladding which remains fully in place on 54 social housing blocks and dozens more private apartment towers across England.

Legal disputes over who should pay to refit buildings which failed fire tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire are holding up works and 44 MPs have now told the housing secretary, James Brokenshire: “Our constituents … need you to act now.”

Government tests showed 304 buildings failed to meet building regulations after the disaster 11 months ago, which claimed 72 lives. Only seven of those buildings are so far known to have completed remediation works. The bill has been estimated at about £1bn and residents in some buildings have been told the value of their homes has slumped, in one case from £475,000 to £50,000.

The call came as the National Fire Chiefs Council issued new guidance stating that using fire wardens to patrol apartment blocks, which have cost leaseholders thousands of pounds per week, are not adequate and fire alarms should be installed.

People living in affected blocks have previously been told they may need to evacuate in the case of a fire instead of sticking to existing “stay put” instructions.

The guidence states that “a temporary change to a simultaneous evacuation strategy is likely to be necessary until the failings have been rectified”.

Fire chiefs have preferred the stay put strategy partly because evacuation of large buildings can delay firefighting and rescue and it can be difficult for disabled people to get out unassisted. But they said the risk posed by failed cladding systems outweighed those risks.

“Nearly a year after Grenfell, not enough has been done to prevent another fire,” said the letter which was organised by Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North, who has campaigned for the removal of flammable cladding from the 95 apartment Citiscape building in his area. A property tribunal has ruled that the leaseholders, rather than the management company, should pay £500,000 to make their building safe.

“There is overwhelming public support for action to protect these people from fire,” the MPs said. “Leaseholders facing unaffordable debt, unsaleable homes and who fear for their safety need help now. You cannot leave them living in limbo for years while the courts establish legal liability. In the end this is about the protection of human life and the right of every family in this country to know their home is safe. We urge the government to accept responsibility for putting things right because no one else can.”

The previous housing secretary, Sajid Javid, had insisted that building owners were responsible for making their properties safe.

In January, his spokesperson said: “We are clear we want to see private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential cladding replacement to leaseholders. We are keeping the situation under review.”

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.

The letter from the 43 Labour MPs and one Liberal Democrat comes amid growing pressure on the prime minister to build trust in the government’s response to the Grenfell disaster.

On Monday, a week before the start of the public inquiry, parliament will debate calls from bereaved families and survivors for Theresa May to appoint additional panel members representative of the community to sit alongside the chair of the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, “to ensure those affected have confidence in and are willing to fully participate”.

Just imagine living in one of these potential " Roman candles " knowing that urgent work is needed to replace the cladding.

How would you be feeling ?

Purely on the numbers front , a few of the tenants will be our fellow comrades.
Affordable housing / Government policy ... a view from the " Other " side :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... -developer

Social housing funding system is 'nuts', says top property developer

Roger Madelin calls for higher corporation tax and says reliance on private developers to pay for affordable homes is stupid.

One of the country’s top property developers has described the UK’s system of funding social housing as “nuts” and called for higher taxes to speed up building.

Roger Madelin, a member of the executive committee at British Land, told the Guardian the decades-old system of getting private developers to pay for affordable homes was “a stupid way of meeting this social need” and that the government should directly fund them.

“All companies should pay higher corporation tax,” he said. “This country needs to have more tax paid. If we did it like that we could get on and do it. It can’t work in the long term, you can’t expect developers to continue to produce for the population’s social needs at this level. It should come from general taxation.”

Madelin’s suggestion will raise eyebrows in the notoriously profit-driven property industry as it implies increased taxes on its profits. But he is a respected figure who led the regeneration of King’s Cross in London as well as Brindley place in Birmingham and his remarks reflect growing frustration that the system is not only failing to deliver enough cheap housing, it is also a drag on development.

He made his proposal as British Land submitted one of the UK’s largest planning applications for a £3bn regeneration of Surrey Quays in east London, with 3,000 homes, up to six skyscrapers and several new corporate headquarters on a site stretching across 53 acres – similar in size to the regeneration of King’s Cross. It is located about 20 minutes’ walk from the City of London, between Shoreditch and Peckham, two rapidly gentrifying areas, on the London overground line. Some 35,000 people already live in the Rotherhithe peninsula, where the development will take place.

The first part of the planning application submitted on Monday includes 35% affordable homes, in line with the policy of the London borough of Southwark’s policy. 70% of those will be available at the lowest social rent, the rest will be shared ownership. But the volume of affordable homes achieved in planning deals across the country is often significantly lower. Between 1991 and 2011 on average 55% of new affordable supply was built each year, but since 2012, this figure has dropped to 38%, according to figures from the Resolution Foundation. Last year, Sainsbury’s was granted permission to build 683 apartments above a store in Ilford, only 27 which – just 4% – will be affordable.

The total number built, including with state funding, fell from 61,090 in 2011 to 41,530 in 2017.

Madelin believes that by avoiding the current haggling between council officers and developers about how much they should contribute to affordable homes, the government could regain control of how much and when much-needed affordable housing could be built.

“I find it nonsensical that we go through these viability assessments,” he said. ‘If you have a shortage of cars then you wouldn’t get motor manufacturers to subsidise people who can’t afford a decent car.”

The Surrey Quays site is at present occupied by swaths of surface car parking, a 1980s shopping centre and the disused Daily Mail printworks which is currently acting as a 3,000-capacity electronic dance music venue.

The planning application features towers rising up to 46 storeys which will have striking views of the Shard, the City and Canary Wharf, all of which are within two miles. Canada Water, an enclosed former dock will be the centre of about 120 acres of open space which will feature walking trails including one, potentially, that winds up and over the exterior of a new entertainment venue. Madelin said he hoped to inspire people to engage in the Italian pastime of “passegiatta” – promenading, a pursuit not normally linked with the Rotherhithe peninsula.

The project is slated to take 10 to 15 years to complete and is being carried out in conjunction with Southwark, which will have a 20% share in the land and can also invest up to 20% in the buildings, Madelin said.

I tend to agree with the author !

Age old problem ... a public and private emterprise partnership.

In short , trying to fit a round piece in a square hole.

Totally different concepts and aspirations.

In the property development field , there is no current " Hybrid " ... it's either public or private.

Nothing to prevent a partnership whereby the Government / LA or any other publically owned outfit employ a private developer to build social housing ... for the latter , the only sticking point is ... " How much profit will we make ? "
Ground zero ... fallout from Grenfell Tower ... Government stumbles from one bad decison to another !

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... e-cladding

Grenfell review will not call for ban on combustible cladding.

Proposed building regulations reforms not expected to include ban on panels that burn.
A government review of building regulations will not recommend an explicit ban on combustible cladding and insulation, despite persistent demands from Grenfell Tower survivors and fire safety experts.

Survivors of the blaze, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and politicians have all called on the government to ban construction materials that burn.

But sources say that Dame Judith Hackitt, a former chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive, is not expected to propose an outright prohibition on products similar to those which appeared to spread fire at Grenfell killing 71 people almost a year ago.
In her review, to be published on Thursday, Hackitt is expected to argue instead for wider reforms of the system, including toughening up fire testing and the way buildings are certified as safe. Sources said she believed such changes would mean contractors and architects would not in effect be able to use such materials. She is also expected to urge the government to move rapidly.

But Sandra Ruiz, whose niece died at Grenfell, said she feared that not explicitly banning combustible cladding was a way to minimise disruption to the building industry and ran the risk of further failures.

“If her thought process is to make these materials difficult to be used then why not just ban them?” she said. “Seventy two people died. Take them away completely and don’t run the risk again.”

For the last 10 months Hackitt has been investigating building regulations after it emerged the method used to clad Grenfell was not unique and that more than 300 towers used similar combustible cladding which had also been approved by building inspectors across the country.

Geoff Wilkinson, a fire safety expert and building consultant, said he was concerned that any proposal for wholesale reform of the system could take time and so create uncertainty while thousands of residents watched the cladding on their buildings stripped and waited to find out what the replacement should be.

“The simple solution that doesn’t risk more mistakes is to only use non-combustible cladding,” he said.

Grenfell Tower was clad in aluminium panels which had a combustible plastic core. It was backed by synthetic insulation which was also classed as combustible. The system was approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s building inspectors after 16 visits.

Hackitt is understood to want to see changes to the way building materials are certified as safe, including fire testing systems which have been widely criticised. And she is believed to want changes to how test results are presented, which can confuse even experts. She has previously said she wanted “a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings which will encourage everyone to do the right thing”.

The UK’s highly complex building regulations system runs to over 1,600 pages. Hackitt has described it as “not fit for purpose” and said it left “room for those who want to take short cuts to do so”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government declined to comment before the review publication.

So far, 158 social housing towers have been found to be wrapped in combustible cladding which is unlikely to meet current building regulations guidance. While the building regulations remain under review, many landlords do not know what materials to use to replace the cladding on the buildings.

However on Wednesday the prime minister announced the government would pay at least £400m for the cladding to be taken down and replaced, following pressure from councils who said they could not afford the works.

“Councils and housing associations must remove dangerous cladding quickly, but paying for these works must not undermine their ability to do important maintenance and repair work,” Theresa May told the House of Commons.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the decision was taken partly because “we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high-priority housebuilding programmes”.

There is currently no funding for dozens more privately owned blocks which are affected and Downing Street said it expected private building owners to “take responsibility for removing and replacing and to not pass the cost on to leaseholders”.

Labour welcomed the funding announcement, but said it should not have taken so long. The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “It is great that the government has honoured its commitment from last summer to meet the unexpected exceptional costs for councils.”

The government has also admitted that many survivors of the Grenfell fire will still be living in emergency accommodation such as hotels 12 months after the disaster. The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, admitted in the Commons that the community would feel “disappointed and let down”.

Of the 210 households who need a new home, 72 have moved into neither permanent nor temporary accommodation.

“It was always going to be a challenge to respond to an unprecedented tragedy on this scale,” Brokenshire said. “It has taken time to purchase suitable homes, adapt and refurbish them to meet people’s needs and the higher safety standards, but this is clearly not good enough.”

The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire starts on Monday with two weeks of tributes to the deceased by their friends and family.

.... and this is only the beginning in the Grenfell Tower inquest.


What could be both simplier and safer ????
Today's Independent lays bare the present situation :

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 56646.html

UK facing its biggest housing shortfall on record with backlog of four million homes, research shows.

England must build 340,000 homes per year until 2031 to meet demand – a figure significantly higher than government’s current estimates, research shows.

England needs to build four million new homes to deal with an escalating crisis, according to research, prompting calls for the government to dramatically increase funding and set more ambitious targets.

Groundbreaking research by Heriot-Watt University says England has a backlog of 3.91 million homes, meaning 340,000 new homes need to be built each year until 2031.

This figure is significantly higher than the government’s current target of 300,000 homes annually.

The findings comes as rough sleeping has risen by 169 per cent since 2010, while the number of households in temporary accommodation is on track to reach 100,000 by 2020 unless the government takes steps to deliver more private, intermediate and social housing.

Major homelessness charities are now calling on the government to use its upcoming social housing green paper to urgently redress the shocking shortfall in affordable housing, by committing to funding new homes and overhauling the way it sells land.

Catherine Ryder, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, told The Independent the findings demonstrated a “real emergency” in the already worrying housing crisis.

“The government simply must realise the scale of the problem, and commit to funding new affordable housing at the level we need, as well as and overhauling the way it sells land,” she said.

David Orr, the federation’s chief executive, added: “This research shows the epic scale of the housing crisis in England.”

The charities, which also include Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said a pledge by the prime minister to invest £2bn in affordable housing would deliver a mere 10 per cent of the social rented homes needed each year.

They urged the government to make ambitious reforms to deliver more homes, saying this must include prioritising the sale of public land for social housing, as well as exploring ways to reduce the cost of private land.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said the findings were “stark and shocking”, adding: “Right now across England, councils are desperately struggling to find homeless people somewhere to live.

“This means thousands of people are ending up trapped in B&Bs and hostels or on the streets, exposed to danger every night. It also means that far too many people are living on a knife edge, in danger of losing their homes because of sky-high housing costs.”

The research suggests that around 40 per cent of all new homes built every year must be affordable homes – in 2016-17, only around 23 per cent of the total built fell into that category. Affordable homes should not cost more than 80 per cent of average rent in a given area.

The annual Homelessness Monitor shows that 70 per cent of local authorities in England are struggling to find any stable housing for homeless people in their area, while a striking 89 per cent reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It is unacceptable that currently in our society millions of people are locked out of being able to afford a decent and secure home.

“For years our failure to deliver enough affordable housing in England has led to rising levels of poverty and homelessness across our country. Now is the time to redesign our housing market so that it works for everyone – no matter who they are or where they come from.

“That’s why it is crucial the government seizes the opportunity offered by the social housing green paper to deliver the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need.”

The government said the green paper, announced in September after the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, would bring about a “fundamental rethink” of social housing in the UK.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the findings highlighted the chronic housing shortage the UK faces, saying: “It is clear that only a bold and ambitious plan to solve the housing crisis will prevent a decent, genuinely affordable home being out of reach for our children and their children.

“What the report also shows is that this isn’t just a numbers game. We have to make sure we build the right homes in the right places, and that people can afford them. For most people social rented housing is the only truly affordable option and the government must support the building of many more of these crucial homes.”

Mr Alafat also called on the government to urgently address the imbalance in its housing budget, which currently sees it spend just 21 per cent of total housing funding on affordable housing.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “This government is committed to building a housing market fit for the future, with the homes our communities need. We have a comprehensive plan to deliver this, including reforming planning rules and investing £9bn in affordable homes.

“We are also allowing councils to borrow more and providing them with increased certainty over rents so they can build more homes.”

Time for a little " Politics " here through logical deduction , hey Holmes ? ... " Oh dear ? " ... yes , I'm typing this , not you !

Question ?

In whose interest is it for house prices to be high , with demand constantly exceeding supply ... probably for the next 20 / 30 years unless there is a fresh economic meltdown that will make 2008 look more like a mere hiccup ?

In addition , renting ... the rise of the BTL landlord , and no controls on the levels of rent being charged.

To compound the loading of the dice , the soaring budget for Housing Benefit ... the use of taxpayers' monies to enable less well off tenants the opportunity to rent some of the houses / flats available at the lower end.

WHO benefits from Housing Benefit ... the BTL landlords !!!

Seeing the picture that emerges ???

Okay , Tories in the frame ?

Yes but ... how many non Tory mps also own BTL properties ... directly or disguised through limited companies , some registered in offshore islands ( Not Canvey or the Isle of Wight ! ) ?

Surely not Labour ?

How many " Pink socialists " have their own " Dachas " ... then tack on the number of Trade Union leaders ... the occasional ex one like dear old Arfur ... and I bet that he is not on coal fired heating ?

POLITICS ... " If voting changed anything , they're make it illegal. " ... thanks Emma.

The smell of money ... is the REAL bottom line !!!
87 posts