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Blog 30th May 2017

May 30th, 10:02

Blog 30th May 2017

A recent survey by ‘Inside Housing’ has confirmed what many in the sector already suspected: Since ‘right to buy’ was ‘re-invigorated’ in 2012, 51,352 council houses have been sold with only 10,644 new homes being started – a replacement rate of one-in-ten rather than one-for-one. Furthermore, fewer than half of the council houses built to replace those sold under the ‘right to buy’ are at social rents with many of the replacements being at ‘affordable’ rents that are set at 80% of market rents. However, some councils such as Islington Borough Council and New Forest District Council have ensured that all replacement homes are at social rent. This raises the question: Could more councils be building social homes rather than affordable homes?

Meanwhile, the National Housing Federation has announced that in the year to April 2017, housing associations completed 38,000 new homes – 5% fewer than during the previous year. In contrast, the number of new starts for market sale increased by 56%. Of the new starts only 8% were for social rent.

This means that the national stock of social homes is continuing to decline.

We have just published the June edition of the ‘AWICS Housing News’. It includes articles on:

  • General Election 2017 – Housing Policies of the Main Parties
  • Housing: The State of the Nation – Report of the Public Accounts Committee
  • The Future of Supported Housing – Report of Parliamentary Select Committees
  • Service Charges and Housing Benefit in Supported Housing
  • Local Authorities across Britain identify a ‘severe’ need for more affordable homes
  • Housing with Care in Scotland
  • Housing Roundup in Wales
  • Housing Revenue Account ‘Health Checks’

Your copy can be freely downloaded from HERE

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies published an interesting analysis of the political parties’ manifestos last week. Their Deputy Director, Carl Emmerson, summarised the conclusion by saying that:

“Neither sets out an honest set of choices".

The Institute of Fiscal Studies argues that the Conservatives’ aim of getting the budget to balance by the mid-2020s would require more spending cuts or tax rises even beyond the end of the next parliament. It also states that there is a lot uncertainty about whether Labour would be able to raise the amount of additional taxation laid out in its manifesto, due to ‘mistakes’ in costing and over optimistic expectations.

In my view none of the parties are addressing the fundamental weaknesses in the United Kingdom economy – including low growth, low productivity and a sizeable trading deficit - or what Chancellor Phillip Hammond has described as the ‘eye-watering’ levels of public debt that are still increasing.

Recent migration statistics have shown a slight reduction in net migration to the United Kingdom. I would question whether the common assumption that inward migration is always a ‘bad thing’ is correct. When I was a student of economics I was told that net inward migration was a sign of a successful economy. I therefore suspect that these statistics are actually bad news. Chris Grey, Professor of Organisation Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, wrote recently in the ‘New European’ that:

“There is already evidence of an academic brain drain and an exodus of European Union National Health Service staff. Likewise, plans to move financial services jobs out of London are proceeding apace, with all that that implies for the already very eroded and fragile United Kingdom tax base and hence for public services.”

Our seminar ‘Developments in Local Authority Housing Finance in England 2017’ will be held on 14th June 2017 in London and on 5th July 2017 in Leeds. It will be fully up to date and will include consideration of the implications of the outcome of the General Election for council housing. This seminar is proving popular but we still have a few places available. For further information or to make a booking, please click HERE

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