Who’s who in the private rented sector?

[Originally posted at the Guardian Housing Network, 25/01/13]

Typical english residential estateThe most striking change in the British housing market over the last decade is the growth of private renting. Last week, Mark Prisk, the housing minister, indicated in the Spectator that further growth is desirable. He wants to make the sector “bigger and better”. But alongside growth is an increasing recognition that we cannot talk about a single private rented sector.

Private rented housing plays different roles in different local housing markets. Thirty years ago, we thought of private renting as accommodating a few distinct groups: those in tied accommodation, the young, the mobile, poor people who did not qualify for social housing, and a rump of lifetime renters on regulated tenancies.

A decade ago, a further group were added to the list: those eligible for social housing who chose private renting to avoid the perceived stigma of estate living. Since then, there have been a number of attempts to identify other groups, such as students and young professionals. [Read more…]

Financing the supply of new housing

[Originally posted at the Guardian Housing Network, 23/05/12]

We all agree that Britain needs new homes. A significant shortfall has emerged over many years and the collapse in construction simply piles on further pressure. Increasing supply is central to dealing with some acute problems facing the housing system.

Simple, but pressing questions follow. Who is going to pay? And how are they going to do it? [Read more…]

Do we need to reinvent the wheel on housing finance?

[Originally posted at the Guardian Housing Network, 18/12/11]

If the government finally accepts that fiscal consolidation, even when coupled with quantitative easing, is not a policy that can deliver adequate economic growth, what might a credible plan B look like? A recent report for Shelter made the case for investment in housing as a key component of an alternative. The report focuses primarily upon using construction as part of a short-term stimulus package, but it also recognises that housing investment has a longer term impact on economic growth. [Read more…]

Giving the government the green light on housing need?

[Originally posted on The Guardian Housing Network, 10/11/11; An edited version of this post]

Last month saw the launch of the first edition of The Housing Report, a joint report from the Chartered Institute of Housing, National Housing Federation and Shelter. The idea is a good one: governments make all sorts of statements about policy aspirations and achievements, and piecing together the available evidence allows us to scrutinise these claims and assess progress.

The report applies a traffic light rating to 10 areas of housing policy, including housing supply and overcrowding, with the aim of returning to the issues regularly to review progress. Its overall assessment of the coalition government’s housing record so far is hardly overwhelming. [Read more…]