“Help to Buy mess as taxpayers subsidise thousands of homes for couples earning more than £100,000”

“Thousands of wealthy families are taking advantage of a taxpayer scheme designed to help struggling first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.

More than 6,700 households with incomes over £100,000 have bought homes using Help to Buy, according to the government’s own figures.

The scheme provides taxpayer cash to people seeking a mortgage. But despite its original aim to help people who could not afford big deposits, nearly one in 20 households with support have six-figure incomes.

And families with incomes of £50,000 or more have now received 40 per cent of loans, according to the report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Of the families who used the scheme, 136,700 were first-time buyers. A fifth of families using the scheme were not first-time buyers.

There is no maximum income on the Help to Buy scheme, which applies to new-build homes.

The scheme allows house hunters to purchase new-builds worth up to £600,000 using deposits of only 5pc – or £30,000.

The Government loans up to another 20pc interest-free for five years – or £120,000. In London, the taxpayer loan can reach 40pc of the value of the property – or £240,000.

When the house is sold, the government takes the same proportion of the sale price. If it goes up, the government makes money. If it goes down, the taxpayer makes a loss.

Campbell Robb, Joseph Rowntree Foundation chief executive, said a lack of cash invested in affordable housing meant more pressure on families forced to rent.

A government spokesman said: ‘The majority of those using our Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme had household incomes of £50,000 or less.’ “


“New Zealand bans sales of homes to [many] foreigners”

It can be done.

“New Zealand’s parliament has banned many foreigners from buying existing homes in the country – a move aimed at making properties more affordable.

The ban only applies to non-residents. Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals.

New Zealand is facing a housing affordability crisis which has left home ownership out of reach for many.

Low interest rates, limited housing stock and immigration have driven up prices in recent years.

Is it a total ban?

No, only non-residents are affected by the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which was passed in a 63-57 vote on Wednesday.

They are now banned from purchasing most types of homes – but they will be able to make limited investments in new apartments in large developments.
Foreigners with residency status in New Zealand – as well as non-resident Australian and Singaporean nationals – are not affected by the ban….”


Social housing: sticking plaster on a haemorrhage

“The Government’s long awaited social housing green paper has concentrated on improving relations between residents’ and landlords but has disappointed councils by offering no new powers to support house building.

Among the main proposals in A new deal for social housing are publication of key performance indicators to allow residents to compare landlords, a revived stock transfer programme, a right-to-buy exercisable in stages and more effective resolution of complaints.

Judith Blake, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, said: “This green paper is a step towards delivering more social homes but it is only a small step, compared with the huge and immediate need for more genuinely affordable homes.

“The Government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more.”

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr – who represents housing associations – said: “Our members fully share the Government’s commitment to ensuring tenants get the quality services they need – and that they can hold their landlords to account if they don’t.”

He added: “Without significant new investment in the building of more social housing, it is very hard to see how it can be a safety net and springboard for all the people who desperately need it.” …”


Fiddling while social housing burns

“When she first came to power Theresa May promised to address Britain’s “burning injustices”. A few weeks ago, MPs were asked to quietly drop the phrase. Tied up in the complications of Brexit, the government has done very little to help the poor and disadvantaged – those who voted in protest against their own circumstances in the referendum. Neglecting this group has not helped past governments, and this one seems to be making the same mistake.

A new green paper on social housing seems unlikely to buck the trend. It recognises that there is a problem with social housing, but fails to recognise the nature of that problem: that there simply needs to be more of it. Instead, it talks about making social housing “fairer”, and “better quality”, and “challenging the stereotypes that exist about residents and their communities”. It says, rather patronisingly, that no social housing tenant should feel a “stigma” about their situation. That is not the pressing issue.

There are almost 1.2 million people on the waiting list for social housing. As they wait, people are forced to pay rent they cannot afford, and as a consequence they cannot afford to buy food. It is no coincidence that the use of food banks in Britain is soaring. But the government is doing little to help. Experts say we need between 70,000 and 90,000 new homes for social housing a year to meet the need in England. Last year fewer than 6,000 were built – a record low. And there are no new funds in the offing to increase supply.

Instead, the green paper concentrates on initiatives such as league tables for social landlords, which it says will “rebalance the landlord/tenant relationship”. But even this is unlikely to work. With such a short supply of social housing, landlords at the bottom of the league aren’t going to suffer from a lack of interest. Neither is it going to be easy for social tenants to flit between houses, depending on their ratings. And social landlords aren’t really a problem either, as these tend to be housing associations or local councils, and bound by professional codes and regulations. Much more dubious are the amateur landlords in the private sector – able to chuck tenants out on a whim – which is where people end up when they cannot get social housing.

This is not the first time the government has tried to distract from a funding crisis by introducing new league tables: it has done this with universities, and rail operators, and lately with nursing and midwifery. It’s an underhand technique – an attempt to shift attention off the government and on to the competition, and to show that the system is at least working for some. But it’s time it started to address the real problems – and for houses that means more building.”


“Elderly should be housed in luxury developments with spas to keep them out of care home”

Owl says: Just one problem – in the whole glowing article the cost of these homes is never mentioned! You can be quite sure these homes will be out of reach for “ordinary” (ie not rich) people – rather like all other new housing.

“Traditional care homes will be increasingly replaced by luxury developments with spas, hairdressers and beauty salons in a bid to keep pensioners independent for longer, ministers say today.

The Government plans will see £76 million invested annually for the next three years in new homes specially designed for those who are frail, elderly or suffering from disabilities.

Health officials said the plans aim to keep people independent for longer – with their own front door, but more support on hand, with use of sensors and video monitoring to track the most vulnerable.

Housing developers will be able to bid for funds, from the programme which has already seen £315 million allocated to projects which design such homes. …”


A useful critique on new planning regulations (local councils stay silent on their views)

Why CPRE thinks it is a developers’ charter (again):


Claire Wright sets up support group for people struggling with Dept of Work and Pensions

What sort of support group might Swire or Parish set up? “Help the Maldives Travel Fund” (Swire) or maybe “Rich farmers who might get slightly poorer” (Parish)? Or possibly: “We both started out as Remainers and are now Brexiteers who have no idea what is going on but desperately trying to look like we know what we are doing” support group?

“Hi, I have set up a support group for people who are struggling with the Department of Work and Pensions, such as those on working tax credits or who are trying to claim PIP or carers allowance, for example.

The first meeting is on Tuesday 21 August at 7pm, in the Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery.

The meeting is primarily for people living in my council ward, however, I won’t turn anyone away.

Please help get the message out there by liking and sharing this post. Many thanks:

Claire Wright
Devon County Councillor
Otter Valley Ward”