Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Grenfell Tower Fallout

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
217 posts
Housebuilding figures under Conservatives lowest since the Second World War.

Completions between 2010 and 2019 will be around 130,000 per year – well down on the 147,000 of the 2000s or 150,000 of the 1990s.


England is on course for its worst decade for housebuilding since the Second World War after a big drop since the Conservatives came to power, new research shows.

The number of completions between 2010 and 2019 will be around 130,000 per year – well down on the 147,000 of the 2000s or 150,000 of the 1990s, a think tank has found.

The figure is just half of the level in the 1960s and 1970s, continuing a “50-year pattern” that has seen successive governments failing to build enough new homes, the Centre for Policy Studies said.

And the picture is even more gloomy when England’s growing population is factored in – with one new built for every 43 people in the 2010s, compared with one for every 14 people in the 1960s.

Robert Colvile, the think tank’s director said: “The housing crisis is blighting the lives of a generation, and robbing them of the dream of home-ownership.

“But as this analysis shows, this is not just the consequence of the financial crisis – it is part of a pattern stretching back half a century, in which we have steadily built fewer and fewer new homes.”

Mr Colvile said there were “encouraging signs that housebuilding is picking up”, after the number of completions topped 160,000 in 2017-18, the highest figure for a decade.

But he added: “Ministers need to take bold action in 2019 to ensure that the 2020s become the decade in which we break this hugely damaging cycle.”

Official figures show that completions reached a modern high of 170,610 in 2007-08, before the financial crash sent the trend of small annual increases into reverse.

In 2012-13, under 108,000 homes were built and the annual total only finally crawled back up above 150,000 in the last financial year.


As The Independent revealed, there is also growing concern at the tiny number of low-cost homes being built, even as the numbers finally rise.

Just 5 per cent of those to be built by 2022 under the government’s £9bn affordable housing programme will be the most affordable “social homes”.

It means 237,500 of the 250,000 planned are likely to be more costly “affordable homes”, which can be sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds or rented out at up to 80 per cent of full market value.

In October, Theresa May did pledge to free local councils to spark a housebuilding revival by finally lifting the strict cap on their borrowing to fund new developments.

The Centre for Policy Studies said that, between January 2010 and June 2018, housing completions in England stood at 1,089,190.

To match the total in the 2000s during the remaining 18 months, developers would need to build at 253,700 new houses per year – a rate not achieved since 1977.

Across the UK, the pattern was similar, with housebuilding falling from a peak of 3.6 million new units in the 1960s to 1.9 million in the 1990s and 2000s, with the 2010s set to come in lower still.

The total between January 2010 and December 2017 stood at 1.23 million, way short of what was required to make it feasible to match the previous decade by the end of 2019
.



One saving grace ?

Given the quality of what's being built , many have dodged a rather expensive bullet ???
Councils " Ripped off " by private landlords, experts warn.

New figures reveal English councils spend almost £1 BILLION a year on temporary housing.


Inevitable ... given the present state of the housing market !
Grenfell survivors seek radical reform of social housing oversight.

Group wants powerful watchdog that could jail negligent housing managers.


The survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are calling on the government to overhaul the way social housing is regulated and set up a powerful watchdog that could jail negligent housing managers.

They want changes as radical as those made to oversight of the banking industry after the 2008 financial crash and have described the current system as “the dog that didn’t bark”.

Natasha Elcock, the chair of the survivors’ group Grenfell United, has told supporters of plans for “a movement to ensure that people up and down the country are listened to and are heard and are in a safe environment”.

Members of the group have made contact with residents’ associations at other social housing blocks and are calling on tenants to sign up to residents associations to start to amplify their voices.


Asked about the initiative, the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, appeared to be receptive and told the Guardian he wanted to make social landlords more accountable to tenants and was conscious of the “need to increase regulation”.

Grenfell residents told the first phase of the public inquiry into the fire that Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation repeatedly ignored their concerns about the standard of workmanship during a refurbishment that involved wrapping the tower in combustible materials.

Ed Daffarn, who escaped from the 16th floor, warned eight months before the fire that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord”.

Daffarn is now driving the move for more urgent reform of the social housing sector as part of Grenfell United. He is also a member of an independent social housing commission set up by Shelter, the housing charity, alongside the former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi. It will publish a report next Tuesday that is expected to echo the Grenfell families’ demands for new regulation.

Daffarn said the current housing ombudsman and social housing regulator were opaque organisations not widely known by tenants. “What we feel let us down at Grenfell was the lack of scrutiny,” he said. “They were safe in the knowledge nobody was going to scrutinise them.”

Grenfell United wants senior managers to have a statutory responsibility to keep tenants safe and a more proactive regulator that targets problems rather than simply responds to complaints.

“Housing associations have seen what happened at Grenfell and are behaving in the same way,” Daffarn said. “The change in culture won’t come about because of the impact of Grenfell, it will come from policy and regulation. We can see so many similarities between the banking industry, which was unregulated and had a crash, and a housing sector that had Grenfell. Regulating housing should be 50 times more important that regulating banks.”

The public inquiry into the disaster will rarely sit this year, causing concern that momentum for reform could wane. Lawyers for the building companies and the council landlords involved in the refurbishment of the tower are being given time to trawl through more than 200,000 documents being disclosed before the second stage of the inquiry, which will scrutinise the management of the tower, communications with residents, its refurbishment and fire safety.


The inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, said in December that the hearings were unlikely to start before the end of 2019.

The campaign for new regulation is a further sign that the bereaved, survivors and residents are opening a new chapter in their activism nearly 19 months after the fire in June 2017, which claimed 72 lives.

" What’s key isn’t that Grenfell is remembered for what happened before the fire, but for the change we achieved after the fire,” said Daffarn. “We are looking to change the culture around social housing and the institutional indifference it entails. Grenfell United has come to believe that can be achieved through a two-pronged attack – tenants’ voice and regulation.”


He said: “Grenfell wouldn’t have happened if we had been heard and respected … People are still not being listened to.”

Brokenshire said he was “struck by the need for clear and effective redress in the area of social housing and ensuring tenants are able to hold their landlords to account”.

“That message of tenant voices is very, very relevant in ensuring proper standards are maintained and that where things are going wrong they are picked up and addressed,” he said. “It is a theme I am very conscious of when we look to the future of regulation around social housing.”

The government is expected to publish a white paper on social housing this year, which is expected to contain proposals for a new system of regulation.
Oh dear , tower blocks in the news ... again ?

High-rise tenants forced out of homes after huge week-long power - and it still isn't fixed

Residents at a block of flats on the Great Thornton Estate have had to throw food away because of the issues


Image

Joe Davison, 32, a wheelchair user spent his New Year at the Premier Inn in Hull's city centre. He said: "I ended up being in a hotel for three days. I've been gone for about a week from last Thursday (December 27) to this Thursday (January 3.) They put me in the Premier Inn because there was no where else for me to go.

"I only realised the electric (had gone) after I'd been out for the day. I came back and there was a letter saying there had been an incident and the council asked where I had been all day. I said, 'I do go out you know'.

"That's when they put me up in the hotel. I've come back when they told me to and because the electric is being powered by a generator it is still a bit on and off."

Mr Davison said there are still appliances he is unable to use, such as the TV, washing machine and tumble dryer. He said: "I've been told that it should be back to normal by next week. I've lost everything, all of my food from Christmas and for New Year because it has all gone off.

"The bin chutes are all full because no one's food is any good. I was meant to be going to a friend's for New Year's Eve but because I had to be back in the hotel for 10pm I couldn't go.

"The council paid for the hotel but I had to pay for my own food but they told me there's nothing they can do about that. It's ridiculous."


Image


Question ... what is a disabled wheelchair user doing in a tower block in the first place ?
Social housing report calls for massive overhaul of tenants’ rights.

Renters need better deal to prevent another Grenfell disaster, says the Social Housing Commission.


Sweeping new powers must be given to social tenants as part of an overhaul needed to ensure a Grenfell-style disaster never happens again, a powerful cross-party commission will warn this week.

It found that social tenants are being failed by a system that leaves them waiting an average of eight months before their complaints are investigated, even when their safety could be at risk.

The calls for a once-in-a-generation rethink of tenants’ rights come from the Social Housing Commission, a year-long investigation brought together by the charity Shelter following the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. Its commissioners include the former Labour leader Ed Miliband, the Conservative former cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi and the campaigner Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. Lawrence said few people in positions of power “understand what this experience [being a social tenant] is like”.

“I doubt they’ve ever had to live in poor housing or know what it is like to feel invisible, like no one cares,” she said. “The case for investing in social housing is overwhelming. We cannot solve the housing crisis without it, but the system must be made more responsive to tenants at the same time.”

The commission is demanding a regulator with similar muscle to the body set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis to fix a system that has left social tenants feeling ignored or branded as troublemakers for raising serious concerns. The panel is also calling for a “significant expansion” of new social housing as well as comprehensive changes to the way the sector is run. The commission has spent a year researching the housing emergency, with 31,000 people responding to its consultation exercise.

One of the main findings is how the current regulatory system is failing social renters. In 2017-18 the average time taken for a decision by the housing ombudsman was eight months. Deep frustrations were expressed to the commission by both private renters and those in social-rented accommodation. The commission’s full report is published on Tuesday

The commissioners – who also include the former Treasury minister Jim O’Neill, Ed Daffarn of Grenfell United, which represents survivors, and Gavin Kelly of the Resolution Trust thinktank – want a new regulator for landlords based on the Care Quality Commission or the Financial Conduct Authority, which was set up after the crisis of 2008 to protect consumers.

Research for the commission by the Britain Thinks agency found that 31% of social renters feel their landlord does not think about their interests when making decisions. In London 38% of social renters feel their landlord does not consider their interests. Nationally only a fifth (19%) of social renters felt able to influence the decisions made by their landlord about their home.

The commission also proposes a new national tenants’ organisation to give social housing residents a voice at a regional and national level and the scrapping of rules that slow down tenants from complaining to a regulator.

There has been growing clamour for an overhaul of renters’ rights after the Grenfell disaster in 2017. The next phase of the official inquiry into the fire is not expected to go ahead until the end of the year.

Daffarn said: “Social housing is not like choosing a doctor – you can’t just up sticks and move if your housing association gets a low rating. Much more is needed to put power in residents’ hands. We need a new regulation system that will be proactive and fight for residents, with real repercussions for housing associations or councils that fail in their duty.”
https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... rty-report

( If you like graphs , click on the above link ... they don't transpose and have been left out. )

England needs 3m new social homes by 2040, says cross-party report.

Commission including Sayeeda Warsi and Ed Miliband has been researching ways to tackle housing crisis.

England must launch the biggest council and social house building drive in its history to rescue millions of people from a future in dangerous, overcrowded or unsuitable homes, a cross-party commission has told the government.

More than 3m new social homes are needed in the next 20 years, more than were built in the two decades after the end of the second world war, according to a year-long housing commission launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Its commissioners include the former Conservative party chair, Sayeeda Warsi, the former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the former Conservative Treasury minister and Goldman Sachs chief economist Lord Jim O’Neill.

The call represents a direct challenge to Tory ministers to dramatically increase social house building from its current level of just over 6,000 homes a year. The number of new homes proposed is equivalent to seven times more houses than there are are in Birmingham and 27 times more than in Milton Keynes.

It comes as the government plans possible new legislation on social housing following the deaths of 72 people at Grenfell Tower, with stronger regulation and more money for council housing. It has described public housing as a safety net and a stepping stone to home ownership, which Theresa May has said she wants to increase in line with the long-held Conservative belief in a “property-owning democracy”.

But the commission, convened by the housing charity Shelter, is arguing that council houses and social housing should be available to more than just the people in greatest need and those saving to buy. As well as the 1.3 million people it estimates are in greatest need because of hazardous homes, overcrowding, homelessness and disabilities, the new homes should be accessible to a further 1.2 million young people and 700,000 older people trapped in private rent. The commission puts the provision of housing on a par with health and education.

The idea has been costed at up to £225bn – more than four times the cost of the HS2 rail line and more than five times the annual defence budget. But savings to the £21bn annual housing benefit bill and the economic boost created by the programme means it would pay for itself inside 40 years, according to fiscal modelling for the commission by Capital Economics.

“The time for the government to act is now,” said Miliband. “We have never felt so divided as a nation, but building social homes is a priority for people right across our country. It is the way we can restore hope, build strong communities and fix the broken housing market so that we can meet the needs and aspirations of millions of people.”

Warsi said: “Social mobility has been decimated by decades of political failure to address our worsening housing crisis. Half our young people cannot buy and thousands face the horror of homelessness. Our vision for social housing presents a vital opportunity to reverse this decay. We simply cannot afford not to act.”

Other commissioners include Lady Doreen Lawrence, the justice campaigner and mother of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, and Edward Daffarn, a social worker who escaped from his 16th floor Grenfell Tower flat and had predicted in a blog that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord”.

The commission represents the broadest coalition yet to urge a change in housing policy. Successive Labour and Conservative governments have sought to encourage the private rented sector as a solution to the housing shortage.

The number of families with children renting privately soared to 1.8m in 2017 from 566,000 in 2003 and the trend is part of the reason for the forecast rise in the housing benefit bill of about £5bn in the coming five years.

Yet conditions are often poor and uncertain with one in seven private rented homes posing an immediate threat to health and safety, according to the government’s own figures. Four in 10 private landlords surveyed say they operate an outright ban on renting to people in receipt of housing benefit, according to Shelter.


Investment in social housing in England has halved in real terms since 1980 and, in the last two decades less has been spent on housing, including benefits, than on defence, public order and safety, education, health and other welfare payments.

“There needs to be a profound shift to see social housing as a national asset like any other infrastructure,” said O’Neill. “A home is the foundation of individual success in life and public housebuilding can be the foundation of national success. It is the only hope the government has of hitting its 300,000-homes-a-year target.”

The commission is also demanding :

• a powerful new Ofsted-style regulator to inspect homes;

• greater influence for tenants over what happens in their buildings;

• the replacement of any sold-off social housing;

• a commitment to mix social housing with private homes of indistinguishable design and without separate “poor door” entrances.

The government has won praise from councils for lifting restrictions on borrowing to build, but levels of council house building have remained historically low, despite recent small increases. A survey of more than 30,000 people carried out for the commission found that a large majority believed there was not enough social housing.

James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, said the government had already launched a £9bn affordable homes programme to deliver 250,000 homes by 2022, which includes social housing, with an additional £2bn promised to 2028.

“Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for this government, and our social housing green paper seeks to ensure it can both support social mobility and be a stable base that supports people when they need it,” he said. “We’ve asked tenants across the country for their views and the thousands of responses we’ve received will help us design the future of social housing. We’re also giving councils extra freedom to build the social homes their communities need and expect.”

The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, described the report as “a wake-up call for Conservative ministers”, adding: “It confirms that investment in new social homes has fallen dramatically since 2010 and that the Conservative redefinition of ‘affordable housing’ is a sham.”

The report states that “affordable rents” for typical two-bedroom properties work out at 30% more expensive than social rents and that “these rent levels are completely out of reach for most people who are eligible for social housing.”

Healey said the commission’s target of 3.1m social homes was consistent with the scale of Labour’s ambition to build a million new “genuinely low-cost homes” in the first 10 years after taking power.
North West affordable homes number " 70% off-target " since 2015.

Fourteen thousand affordable homes were built across the region, but council forecasts say more than 42,600 are required.

Trina Watson, from the Tenants' Union, said the number built "pales in comparison" to the need.

The government said providing fair social housing was a priority.

It plans to build 250,000 homes by 2022 across the UK, including homes for social rent.

But national figures show there are only three areas in the north-west where the affordable homes target has been met - Liverpool, Wigan and Halton in Cheshire.

Councils in England are obliged to compile Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMA) that calculate the number of affordable homes their area needs each year.

The number of affordable homes built in east Cheshire between April 2015 and April 2018 is 2,873 fewer than the 4,203 homes than Cheshire East Council predicted were needed over that time in its SHMA, written in 2013.

The number built in Wirral is 2,576 fewer than its forecasted need, and in Manchester the figure is 2,600 less.

In Barrow-in-Furness just ten affordable homes were built between April 2015 and April 2018.

Cheshire East Council said it had "exceeded" a newer target for affordable homes, which was calculated using a different methodology and approved by a government inspector.

Wirral Council said new government projections indicate their need for new housing is lower.

"We also do everything within our power to encourage developers to build affordable housing", a spokesperson said.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said 50,000 affordable homes would be built across the conurbation by 2038 to tackle the region's "housing crisis", in plans outlined last week.

Ms Watson said the shortfall was causing more people to be "pushed into unsuitable unsafe private rented houses"


Why aren't enough affordable homes being built ?

Phil McCann, BBC Sunday Politics North West

It's clear that there's a need for more affordable housing, but the obstacles to building it are complex.

Forty years ago, 40% of all newly built houses were council properties. In 2017, it was less than 2%.

Since 2012, rules have capped the amount councils can borrow to build new ones, and housing associations have had difficulties borrowing the money they need to build too.

A lot of affordable housing is actually built by private developers, either in partnership with councils or in exchange for planning permission to build more lucrative housing.

But there are often concerns about the time it can take for those developers to build, and in some cases they can argue that building or contributing to the building of affordable units would render their developments unviable.

But the government has removed the cap on borrowing for council house building, and has set aside £2bn to build new homes over the next ten years.
I doubt very much that the government can initiate and complete the new housing this country desperately needs within any timetable. The need for housing has grown faster than the supply for decades. Here we are in a deep housing crisis and government throwing money at it expecting ti to just happen.

The government seems to think that low cost housing is cheap and nasty buildings in unsafe locations (flood planes and bad pollution). The rise of part ownership seems to have little to do with low cost housing in our local area.
These part ownership seem to be at very similar cost to mortgaged homes. They are not low cost housing aka 100% social housing with low rent.

After WW2 something like 60% of UK housing was local authority (council) housing because of the need for low cost housing after the war. The size of the housing problem is equal to or worse than then, so they need to start building new social housing fast.
Prefab or modular buildings is the way forward and for full home ownership. Chucking vast sums of money to private limited company housing developers will not provide the low cost housing required.

Out local council is selling off council houses very cheaply to existing tenants and not replacing the numbers, so every year there is less and less low cost housing. So they are making the crisis worse every year. The situation is stupid.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ ... dW2ovCPObg

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah To Sue Over London Air Pollution Levels After Daughter Died Of Asthma Attack


They are building "low cost" housing in this town too close to busy road junctions which have bad pollution levels.
Yep ... on another thread , I alluded to the several long years battle of social tenants in tower blocks close to Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... -modernity

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ion-crisis
217 posts