“Demand for new homes sees house builder Barratt rake in profits and pledge another £175m payout to shareholders”

And all done on the back of building fewer houses:

and a bribery scandal:

“House builder Barratt Developments is cashing in on the demand for homes across the UK with bumper half-year profits in the last six months of 2017.

The new home builder reported a record half-year profit of £342.7 million in the second half of last year, a 6.8 per cent increase on the year before.

While it said a slowdown in high-end central London homes could hit margins, Barratts planned to offset it by buying more land and ‘operational efficiencies’. …

The group revealed plans to pay out a special dividend to shareholders worth £175 million in both November 2018 and November 2019, something it said reflected its ‘confidence’ in performance. …”


Gentrification and brownfield New York style

6pm today, BBC 2:

“Ade heads to Harlem and meets residents who are benefiting and suffering at the hands of gentrification. Ant is at Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan where an entirely new district is being built on top of a functioning rail depot.”

Another toothless tiger – a rented housing “watchdog”

Owl says: more money to be spent on another useless quango. Can you imagine the correspondence? Instead of a long-running battle with a landlord, it will be an everlasting problem with a taxpayer-funded quango, which could go something like this:

I live in a flat with no heating, my landlord refuses to fix it.
Rate your heating and explain your problem in as technical way as possible, on this 20 page form. (end of week 1)
I don’t have any heating, I can’t get more technical than that, I’m not a plumber or electrician.
We cannot process your complaint unless you fill in the form and have it certified by a plumber or electrician. (end of week 4)
(You fill in the form as best you can).
Sorry, you did not include information about the warranty and the plumber you engaged said he could not provide more information without a full inspection. (end of week 8)
I don’t have the warranty, my landlord has it and won’t let me see it, it’s my landlord’s responsibility to engage and pay for an inspection
Sorry, we can’t help you if you do not have a copy of the warranty and a copy of the inspection report from your landlord (end of week 12)
So what do I do now – I have no heating, I’ve paid for a plumber’s visit out of my own pocket and my landlord refuses to give me a copy of the warranty and refuses to call a plumber? (week 16]
Email: Thank you for using our service. Please rate our service on the attached questionnaire: was it
brilliant or
outrageously, miraculously wonderful?

“HOUSEHOLDERS will soon be spared long-running battles with rogue landlords and builders to get their homes repaired.

A new watchdog will be appointed to adjudicate in disputes over damp walls, broken boilers and crumbling plasterwork.

The government appointed housing ombudsman will have sweeping powers to resolve disagreements between dissatisfied residents and landlords or builders.

He will also be encouraged to name and shame dodgy housing or repair providers.

It will be a lifeline for millions of tenants or home-owners locked in long-running rows over everything from outstanding repairs to cracks in new-build homes. …”

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid will today launch an eight-week consultation on the precise role of the new official.”


“Developers leave 420,000 homes with planning permission unbuilt, new figures show”

“The number of homes that have not been built despite receiving planning permission has soared in the last year, new figures reveal, meaning sites for hundreds of thousands of new properties are being left undeveloped.

More than 400,000 homes have been granted permission but are still waiting to be built, according to analysis published by the Local Government Association (LGA) – a rise of 16 per cent in the past year.

The data also shows developers are taking significantly longer to build homes than they were four years ago. It now takes an average of 40 months from planning permission for a property to be completed – eight months longer than in 2013-14.

The findings will probably raise questions over why developers are taking more than three years to complete homes, and in many cases failing to build them at all, at a time when the UK is building around 50,000 fewer properties per year than is needed to meet current demand.

In 2015-16, the number of homes in England and Wales that had received planning permission but not been built was


A year later that had risen to


Developers argue that a burdensome planning system stops them building properties more quickly, but the LGA said the new figures prove that delays are the fault of developers, not councils.

Councillor Martin Tett, the organisation’s housing spokesman, said: “These figures prove that the planning system is not a barrier to house building. In fact the opposite is true. In the last year, councils and their communities granted twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that were completed.

“No one can live in a planning permission. Councils need greater powers to act where house building has stalled.”

Arguing that town halls need to be given greater freedom to borrow money to fund new homes, Mr Tett added: “Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. While private developers have a key role to play in solving our housing crisis, they cannot meet the 300,000 house-building target set by the Government on their own.

“We have no chance of housing supply meeting demand unless councils can get building again.”


Home ownership amongst the (non-wealthy) young has plummeted in 20 years

“New research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows how an explosion in house prices above income growth has increasingly robbed the younger generation of the ability to buy their own home. For 25- to 34-year-olds earning between £22,200 and £30,600 per year, home ownership fell to just 27% in 2016 from 65% two decades ago.

Middle income young adults born in the late 1980s are now no more likely than those lower down the pay scale to own their own home. Those born in the 1970s were almost as likely as their peers on higher wages to have bought their own home during young adulthood.

Andrew Hood, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Home ownership among young adults has collapsed over the past 20 years, particularly for those on middle incomes.”

The IFS said young adults from wealthy backgrounds are now significantly more likely than others to own their own home.

Between 2014 and 2017 roughly 30% of 25- to 34-year-olds whose parents were in lower-skilled jobs such as delivery drivers or sales assistants owned their own home, versus 43% for the children of those in higher-skilled jobs such as lawyers and teachers. …”


Buzzfeed says Tory Housing Minister in private Facebook group that wants to sell off all council housing, privatise all health care and bring back workhouses for debtors

“The Conservatives’ new housing minister, Dominic Raab, belonged to a private Facebook group that argues for council housing to be sold off at market value, healthcare to be privatised, and the return of workhouses for the poor.

Raab was, until Thursday morning, one of 14 members of a closed group called the “British Ultra Liberal Youth — The Ultras”, which was set up about seven years ago. He withdrew from the group after being approached for comment.

Raab told BuzzFeed News: “I wasn’t aware of this group, let alone that I had inadvertently and mistakenly been linked on Facebook. I have corrected it, and needless to say I do not support its aims.”

Because the group is closed, BuzzFeed News is unable to see activity within the group — just the description and membership. There had been no new posts or new members in the last 30 days.

According to the group’s “About” page, it believes that “Britain is a nation that has been shooting at it’s [sic] own feet for too long” and that “too much tolerance of socialism has cost us a trillion pounds”.

“If this were a football field,” the description continues, “we would be racing down the right wing so close to the touchline, we would be doing so very carefully making sure we don’t put our feet outside the field of play.”

It is the duty of members, it adds, to pressure mainstream Conservatives into realising that selling off council housing, ending free healthcare, and bringing back workhouses for debtors are policies that “have found their time to enter Britain”.

At the time of publishing, the 13 other members appeared to include another current Tory MP, Henry Smith; a former Tory MP; and others who have stood unsuccessfully for parliament for the Conservatives or UKIP.

Smith was unavailable to comment because he is travelling, but an aide said he wouldn’t have voluntarily joined the group, and that he hasn’t used that Facebook account for more than a year. “Certainly someone may have added him to the group and he clearly didn’t notice but he definitely does not join any such groups himself,” the staffer said.

According to Facebook, you can be added to a closed group if you’re friends with someone in that group, and you’ll receive a notification that you’ve been added.

Raab joined Facebook in 2010 and uses his account to publicise his work as an MP and minister. In one recent post, he promoted an opinion piece he wrote for the Daily Telegraph about the government’s £866 million investment in local housing projects. Housing is “one of the great social challenges of our generation”, Raab wrote.

Raab, 43, was appointed housing minister in Theresa May’s new year reshuffle, putting him in charge of one of the Conservatives’ top policy priorities. Addressing the housing crisis has been one of the party’s main concerns after it polled significantly worse than Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour among voters under 40 at the last election, and the prime minister has said she will make it her personal mission to get more people into homeownership.

Raab was a City lawyer and Foreign Office official before becoming a parliamentary aide to David Davis. He was elected MP for Esher and Walton in 2010 and was a minister in the Justice Department before moving to housing last month.

Having been tipped as one of the rising stars on the Tory right, Raab was seen as unlucky not to be given a cabinet position during the reshuffle last month.

He was criticised during last year’s general election campaign for saying on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show that food bank users typically aren’t poor but have a “cashflow problem episodically”.