Industry news

News in brief

• Nearly half of private renters in England aged over 50 have been forced to make drastic decisions to cover their rent, including borrowing money from their own children, a new study from the National Housing Federation has found. In addition a third of older private renters are living below the poverty line after they have paid their rent. The number of people over 50 renting from private landlords has nearly doubled in just ten years. At the same time private rents in England have grown 21 per cent on average over the last six years. According to the NHF research, nearly half a million older renters have been hit by a lack of affordable housing, and have been forced to take out loans or cut down on food and heating just to make rent payments. 170,000 older renters said they had borrowed money from friends or family to pay their rent. Meanwhile, around 52,000 private renters over 50 who moved house in the last three years, were forced to do so against their will.

• A year's rent takes up every penny earned by full-time workers until the first week of May, analysis undertaken by the BBC revealed. A middle-income earner in England has to work 86 days to rent an average two-bedroom home, five more than in 2011. In Scotland and Wales the number of working days needed to cover their rent fell to 79 and 71 days respectively. The workers being squeezed the most by rents rising faster than pay are in the south of England. A private tenant in London would have to work 165 days to earn enough to cover the rent on a two-bed property, compared to 66 days for a worker in the North East. In the capital, even renting a room in a shared property takes a full-time worker until 27 March. A middle-earning worker makes £27,150 after tax and National Insurance. Renting a room at an average of £7,200 they would have to work 67 days just to cover the rent. That is nearly three weeks longer than in 2011. In Bristol, rents have increased so much that it takes another month to be able to afford a two-bed property, compared with 2011.

• The company which oversaw the 2016 refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has announced in its annual accounts that it had made £9.2m profit in the year ended 30 September 2017. However, a Rydon spokesperson, said its total profit was £19m, a 50 per cent increase on the previous year. This was the figure for Rydon Holdings, which is the parent company of Rydon Group. The company said it made no provision in its accounts for any costs arising from the blaze in June last year, which killed 72 people.

Labour promises to redefine ‘affordable housing’ and to rekindle council housing

biggest council housebuilding programme for over 30 years. ‘Housing for the Many’ is the party’s Green Paper


on reviving the social housing sector and dealing with the affordability crisis facing the nation’s youth, with young adults struggling to buy or to pay their rent. It’s arrival fills a policy gap with the Government’s own promised Green Paper being delayed. In a set of eye-catching proposals within the 40-

page document, Labour says it will: • redefine affordable housing – doing away with “affordable rents” at up to 80 per cent of market rates and replace them with genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy linked to local average incomes;

• suspend the right-to-buy, arguing it jeopardises the supply of social housing;

• end all conversions of existing social rent homes to the much higher “affordable rents” and scrap plans to force councils to sell their most valuable homes;

• transform the planning system with a new duty to deliver affordable homes, while setting up an English Sovereign Land Trust to make more land available more cheaply;

• lift the cap on borrowing by local authorities, to allow councils to build more social housing; and

• set up a new Department of Housing and an independent watchdog to assess the Government’s housing policies and to make sure promises are delivered.

As the Green Paper was written in the post

Grenfell period, it is no surprise that the opposition say they want to make affordable homes “a best choice, not a last resort” with fire safety being given a high priority – becoming the first standard in a new Decent Homes definition and works

18 | HMM May 2018 |

n a very ambitious set of promises, the Labour party is vowing to build one million genuinely affordable homes over ten years, including the

programme, as well as committing to the fitting of sprinklers in all high rise tower blocks.

NEW RIGHTS It also proposes ending any institutional indifference or failure to respect tenants by granting a new set of rights for affordable housing residents, including tenants on boards, consumer rights standards and a vote on estate regeneration schemes. It also wants to promote security for families and stability for communities by scrapping the laws to end long-term council tenancies. John Healey, the Shadow Housing Secretary, said:

“We will build for those who need it, including the very poorest and most vulnerable … and for those in work on ordinary incomes. This is the ‘just coping’ class in Britain today, who do the jobs we all rely on – IT workers, HGV drivers, joiners, warehouse managers, lab technicians, nurses, teaching assistants, call centre supervisors, shop staff.” While the announcements were welcomed by

many working in the housing sector, some commentators were critical of the Green Paper for its near exclusive focus on social renting, saying that it also needed to address issues in the private rented sector and housing for sale market. Some also felt that not enough focus was given to the positive contributions that housing associations could make. A Conservative spokesperson said: “Labour

would kick away the housing ladder from everyone living in council houses by taking away their right to buy, just as Labour did in Wales. Under the Conservatives, we are investing £9bn to build more good-quality homes that people can afford and have seen the highest number of new homes being built for a decade.” Healey responded by saying: “The housing

market is broken and current Conservative housing policy is failing to fix it. We have to build more affordable homes to make homes more affordable.”

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