Berlin to freeze rents for 5 years

“… Berlin’s state cabinet has agreed on a rent freeze for five years to counter rising housing costs in the German capital.

The city’s leftwing coalition government wants to freeze the rent for apartments built before 2014, according to a report by the German news agency dpa.

Only a minority of Berliners own their homes or apartments and rent has been rising sharply in recent years, forcing many to move outside the city. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/22/germany-berlin-cabinet-agree-five-year-rent-freeze?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

East Devon’s “North West Quadrant” of “linked villages” – or Exeter’s North East suburbs?

“The potential for strategic scale development in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon was identified and a network of linked villages, referred to as Clyst Villages, has been put forward

The concept of a ‘network of linked villages’ being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon will be investigated.

East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday morning unanimously recommends to the Cabinet that East Devon supports the Exeter and East Devon garden communities status.

The Exeter bid would see around 12,000 new homes built in the city as part of the Liveable Exeter vision and has already been agreed by their council. …”

“The villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon would be most likely to be included as ones that could be expanded further, based on them being in the quadrant and close to existing infrastructure….”

Cllr Philip Skinner said: “We are going to have the housing numbers whether we like it or not, and we cannot put off and delay this as there is a much bigger vision than just focusing on that. This is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in.

“This is an extremely important document that we should be signing up to this now and I am bang up for seeing this comes forward in the right way.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-could-getting-network-3454612

The Great Help-to-Buy ripoff

“Building chiefs cash in on Help to Buy”

Bosses at Persimmon, Barratt and Bellway have been handed shares worth more than £12million.

Persimmon chief executive David Jenkinson exercised share options worth £10million under the housebuilder’s controversial bonus scheme, while two top Barratt executives received stock worth nearly £1million, and two Bellway bosses were handed performance-linked shares worth £1.6million.

The bonanza came just a day after Tony Pidgley, the founder and chairman of rival builder Berkeley, sold shares worth £42million.

His deal took the amount he has made from selling stock in the past two and half years to £166m.

Last night critics condemned the share awards, which came just a week after figures showed the rate of house building in the UK had hit a three-year low.

Developers such as Persimmon, Barratt and Bellway – but less so Berkeley – have also raked in record profits off the back of Help to Buy, a taxpayer-funded scheme that lends cash to buyers.

Reuben Young, a spokesman for housing campaign group Priced Out, said: ‘The scandal is these payouts are only made possible by Help to Buy, which has taken developer profits into the stratosphere by investing public money into rising house prices.’

Persimmon’s Jenkinson, 52, received 411,084 shares worth £9.7million at yesterday’s prices. After taxes he received 217,874 shares worth £5.2million and he is required to hold on to them for at last one year.

Barratt chief executive David Thomas received 64,182 shares worth £431,000 through a bonus plan and deputy chief Steven Boyes received 50,795 worth £341,000.

Bellway awarded 30,667 performance-linked shares worth about £1million to boss Jason Honeyman and 17,823 shares worth about £600,000 to finance chief Keith Adey.

The final amount of shares they receive will depend on whether they hit performance targets.

Meanwhile, Pidgley has sold shares in the past six months that have made him £79.2million.

That included 1m he sold in July for £37.2million and a further 1m on Tuesday for £42million, cashing in on his company’s rising share price.

The sales came after Pidgley previously sold a total of 2.5m shares for £86.8million in 2017 – taking the amount he has made since then to a staggering £166million.

The building firms declined to comment.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7585531/Building-chiefs-cash-Help-Buy.html

94-99% of rented accommodation too expensive for those on benefits

And remember this includes working people whose wages are so low they are entitled to benefits (effectivelya subsidy to employers).

“The government must increase the levels of housing benefit given to people in the private rented sector as families are being priced out of homes, according to a trade association.

The National Housing Federation analysis has found that 94% of homes for private rent – and up to 99% in some areas – are too expensive for those on housing benefit.

The Local Housing Allowance – used to calculate how much benefit households in the private rented sector will receive – when introduced in 2008 was worked out from the bottom 50% of market rents and later reduced to 30% under the coalition government.

In 2013, rates of LHA were separated from market values and eventually frozen in 2016 leaving working families unable to afford a place to live, the federation said.

NHF said the benefit – for which there are 1.3 million claimants – is inadequate and is leading to increasing levels of poverty and debt.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “Low income families are being punished two-fold, no longer able to access social housing because of the dire shortage of it, they now can’t access enough housing benefit to rent privately either.

“The crippling effects of the housing crisis and significant cuts to benefits have forced thousands of parents into impossible situation in order to keep a roof over their children’s heads, many having to choose between crippling debt, overcrowding or homelessness.”

The number of homeless children in temporary accommodation has increased by 83% since 2011 to 126,020, the report added.

The federation has urged the government to end the freeze on LHA and increase it so that it covers 30% of private rent homes in any local area. It also repeated its recommendation to spend £12.8bn each year on new social housing.

The NHF analysed 75,000 rental homes advertised on Zoopla in July 2019 and compared the cost of rent for each property with the rate of LHA that a family requiring that sized property would be entitled to.

A government spokesperson said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is an absolute priority. The government increased more than 360 Local Housing Allowance rates this year, by targeting extra funding at low-income households.

“We’ve helped councils and housing associations to speed up the delivery of more homes, including social housing, through our £9bn Affordable Homes Programme – delivering over 430,000 affordable new homes since 2010.”

Housing minister Esther McVey told the Conservative Conference last week that the government would prioritise brownfield land for new builds.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/10/nine-out-10-families-priced-out-private-rented-sector

Could you afford to rent a home in East Devon if you were on Universal Credit?

To afford the cheapest 30% of rented accommodation in East Devon, you would need £72 per month more Universal Credit than you would get (assuming landlords would be prepared to rent to you):

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/afford-to-rent-housing-benefit-calculator_uk_5d95be48e4b0f5bf796fba8f?

With many retail outlets closing and big companies like Thomas Cook goung under, some families in East Devon are closer to homelessness than they might imagine … through no fault of theirs.

“Brits want Boris Johnson to prioritise building more council houses over right to buy scheme, survey reveals”

“[A] survey found 37 per cent of voters said building more social housing is their top demand.

This was joint with tackling homelessness.

This compares to the 29 per cent who want No10 to prioritise homeownership schemes like right to buy.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10014275/boris-johnson-council-houses-right-to-buy/

Bleak outlook for children in social housing

“Thousands of homeless children are growing up in cheaply converted shipping containers and cramped rooms in former office blocks; 130,000 families in England are being crammed into one-bedroom flats; and social housing residents of a block of flats in east London engulfed in flames say they are being forced to move back despite safety fears.

These are just a few recent examples of how the UK housing crisis is affecting the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. But how much notice is the prime minister, Boris Johnson, taking?

He has made spending pledges for the NHS and police, but there is little to suggest Johnson will address the UK’s shortage of truly affordable homes for rent. Housing expert Colin Wiles points out that during Johnson’s two terms as London mayor, he redefined the term “affordable” in 2011 to mean rents of up to 80% of market rents – extremely expensive in the capital. “Johnson’s philosophy, in a nutshell, is that homeowners mean Tory voters and social housing means Labour voters,” says Wiles. “Johnson in No 10 signals a gloomy outlook.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/25/social-housing-crisis-builds-government-passes-buck?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other