How long can you avoid blame? At least nine years when it comes to poor/no housing!

 

Owl says: It’s always someone else’s fault … there is no buck so it can’t stop anywhere!

“Theresa May speaks out against construction of ‘tiny’ houses, calling for new design standards”

Theresa May is calling for new design standards for house builders to ensure future owners and tenants are not forced to live in “tiny” homes with inadequate storage space.

In her latest move to secure a political legacy, the prime minister will hail figures showing that by the autumn, a million new homes will have been added in under five years.

But her comments come as a parliamentary report warns that the government’s target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year is “way off track” because of problems at the heart of the planning system.

The cross-party House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said that “much more needs to be done” to scale up house building.

The Ministry of Housing has been “reluctant to take decisive action” to deal with councils which fail to produce the up-to-date local plans which are needed to drive delivery, said the committee in a report.

And local authorities have found it difficult to secure sufficient contributions from private developers to help with the cost of the infrastructure needed to support housing developments.

Committee chair Meg Hillier, said: “Progress against the government’s annual new house building target is way off track and currently shows scant chance of being achieved.

“The government has set itself the highly ambitious target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s – levels not seen since World War Two – even though there is no clear rationale for this figure and the ministry themselves say only 265,000 new homes a year are needed.

“Government needs to get a grip and set out a clear plan if it is not to jeopardise these ambitions.”

In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester on Wednesday, Ms May will say that the drive to build more homes must not lead to the quality of new housing being compromised.

Tenants and buyers are currently facing a “postcode lottery”, with many councils still not applying space standards introduced by the government in 2015 as a condition of planning permission, she will say.

In a clear message to her successor as prime minister, she will call for the creation a new system of universal mandatory regulation.

“I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage, where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture, and where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom,” she is expected to say.

Ms May will point to figures showing that since she entered No 10 in 2016, the number of extra homes being created was up by 12 per cent in Manchester, 43 per cent in Nottingham and 80 per cent in Birmingham.

Last year, she will say, more additional homes were delivered than in all but one of the previous 31 years while the number of affordable housing starts this year has risen to almost 54,000.

But she will warn against complacency: “The housing shortage in this country began not because of a blip lasting one year or one parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades.

“The very worst thing we could do would be to make the same mistake again.”

Ms May will also confirm plans to end so-called “no-fault” evictions, with a consultation to be published shortly, and set out a timetable for action on social housing including improved rights for tenants.

The PM is pushing for higher house building standards (AFP/Getty)
Polly Neate, the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said Ms May’s commitment to improving quality in the housing market was “to be applauded” but added: “The huge numbers of people in this country who are at the sharp end of the current housing emergency will never be able to afford those new houses.

“What this country needs – and what it wants – is a commitment from the top, from any prime minister, to a renewal of social housing. We need 3.1 million homes in the next 20 years to provide affordable and stable homes for generations to come.”

Local Government Association housing spokesman Martin Tett denied the planning system was a “barrier to housebuilding”, pointing to statistics showing councils approve nine in 10 applications but hundreds of thousands of homes given planning permission are yet to be built.

Cllr Tett said councils needed freedom to build more social homes themselves.

“The last time the country built more than 300,000 homes a year was 1977-78, when councils built 44 per cent of them,” he said.

“Latest figures show councils were only able to build 2,000 homes last year – the highest level since 1992 – but need to be able to do so much more. To help end the housing crisis, we need to kick-start a genuine renaissance in council house building.”

Responding to the PAC report, housing minister Kit Malthouse said:“This government is determined to restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation by delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

“We’re committed to building more, better and faster, including £44bn of funding and guarantees to support more homes, reforming the planning system to free up more land, and removing the cap on how much councils can borrow to build.

“We’re making real progress, last year delivering more new homes than in all but one of the last 31 years.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-housing-speech-tiny-houses-new-buildings-a8974711.html

Developers holding Help to Buy purchasers to ransom

Just when you think all the juice had been extracted from buyers, another scandal pops up.

“Contracts for new-build homes and the industry-led code of practice that informs them are heavily weighted in favour of the developer. The Consumer Rights Act does not include new builds, giving buyers less protection than high-street shoppers, and each year hundreds of purchasers are left in limbo when a home is not finished in time. They can’t pull out and reclaim their deposit until building works look likely to exceed what’s known as the “long-stop” date – the final date by which a property can be finished, which is often buried in the small print.

This can be up to six months later than the legal completion date cited in the contracts, and the legal completion date is often months later than the estimates given when contracts are exchanged. Most mortgage offers are only valid for three months.

While purchasers are legally bound to the developer’s timetable for the exchange and completion of contracts and face substantial penalties if they delay, developers allow themselves generous leeway.

A completion date only becomes legally binding when the home is ready and a “completion notice” is served, after which purchasers have seven to 10 days to pay up or else face interest charges on the balance.

Nor are developers obliged to pay compensation for delays, unless the developer exceeds the “long-stop” date. Purchasers who have to proceed with the sale of their old home after exchanging contracts, or to rearrange a mortgage when their offer expires, can be left heavily out of pocket. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jun/23/new-build-homes-buy-delay-bill-developers?

A glimpse into the size of land banking

“Kier Group will sell its housebuilding and property businesses, cut about 1,200 jobs and suspend its dividend for at least two years in a radical overhaul designed to lower debt and stabilise the business. …

[CEO] Davies said Kier had already received expressions of interest in its housebuilding business, which built 842 units in the six months to end-December, at which time it had a landbank of 4,739 plots. …”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-kier-group-restructuring/kier-to-sell-housing-businesses-cut-1200-jobs-and-suspend-dividend-idUKKCN1TI0IN?

Regional imbalances to be examined by MPs

Bet our Local Enterprise Partnership has some “bigly beautiful” figures to support much more housing – fuelled by nuclear energy probably (bacause, as their hero Trump says – wind turbines cause cancer!).

“A parliamentary inquiry has been launched to examine the impact of regional imbalances in the UK economy.

The treasury committee is to examine the nature and impact of regional imbalances in economic growth across the country and the extent to which these explain poor productivity growth across the UK.

It will establish what regional data is currently available in the UK, how it could be used more effectively in policy development, and whether official regional economic forecasts should be produced.

MPs will seek to learn lessons from other countries on the use of regional economic data and forecasts, and understand how devolution has changed the need for regional data.

The effectiveness of regional bodies, such as combined authorities, in promoting growth will also be considered, as well as the extent to which the devolution of funding can help reduce regional disparities.

Treasury committee chair Nicky Morgan said that disparities between the areas represented by committee members had become “abundantly clear” in her time as chair.

“Whether it be a divide between north and south, towns and cities, or urban and rural, people experience the chasm which exists between various parts of the UK through their day to day lives,” said Ms Morgan.

That included differences not just in economic growth and income, but also in health and educational outcomes and the quality of infrastructure, she said.

“As part of this inquiry, we’ll examine why this is the case, what the effects are in terms of imbalances, such as wages and employment, and how successful regional programmes have been in promoting regional economic growth.

“The treasury committee will seek to identify the disparities and explore how better data can inform policy makers on how best to level the playing field.”

Committee member Alison McGovern said the inquiry would help build an accurate picture of how the economy affected people in different parts of the UK.

“We must understand how regional economic performance shapes people’s lives and their perceptions of where they live and work,” she said.

“It is not sufficient for the government to only offer figures on economic success in aggregate terms. I hope this inquiry can show how the government can get a full picture of the whole of the UK economy in the future.”

Written evidence will be accepted on the treasury committee website until 2 August.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/06/mps-investigate-economic-disparities-uk

Is our Local Enterprise Partnership attempting to hi-jack housing and infrastructure funding and control?

Yet another attempt by this unelected bunch of conflicted business people to suck up funding meant for local councils:

“…
Recommendations
2.1. 1.
That the Joint Committee pursue an area-based package to accelerate housing delivery which, at headline level, should include:

a. Resourcing of a strategic delivery team (capacity funding)
b. A major infrastructure delivery fund to unlock growth
c. A small schemes liquidity fund to bring forward stalled sites

2. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is agreed as an
appropriate package to accelerate housing delivery across the HotSW
geography.

3. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is used by officers as
the basis for future engagement with central government and its agencies in seeking to secure a bespoke deal for the HotSW area to structurally embed collaboration with central government on housing delivery.

4. That the Task Force seeks to now engage with senior figures within both Homes England and the MHCLG Growth and Delivery Unit to understand their appetite for driving growth and willingness to work with the Joint Committee on some kind of housing deal.

5. That the Task Force brings back any updates or progress to the Joint Committee to consider in due course.”

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/s26163/HotSW%20JC%20-%20Housing%20Task%20Force%20report.pdf

The appendix on pages 5 and 6 is particularly worrying.

And where does this leave the (stalled due to political changes) Greater Exeter Strategic Plan?

“Help to Buy: ‘Most users did not need help report finds’ “

“Almost two-thirds of homebuyers who used the government’s Help to Buy scheme could have bought a home without it, an official report has said.
However, they may not have been able to buy the house they wanted without the help, the report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found.

It also found that one in 25 of participants had household incomes of over £100,000.

The scheme did help boost the profits of building firms, the NAO said.

It was too early to determine if the scheme had delivered value for money for the taxpayer, the report said.

“Help To Buy has increased home ownership and housing supply, particularly for first-time buyers,” Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said.
“However, a proportion of participants could have afforded to buy a home without the government’s help.

“The scheme has also exposed the government to significant market risk if property values fall, as well as tying up a significant public financial capacity.

“The government’s greatest challenge now is to wean the property market off the scheme with as little impact as possible on its ambition of creating 300,000 homes a year by 2021,” he said.

By 2023, the government will have invested up to £29bn in the scheme, tying up cash which cannot be used elsewhere,” the NAO said.

Bigger firms made the most of the scheme.

Between 2013 and 2018 more than half the sales in England made by Redrow, Bellway, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Persimmon involved Help to Buy.

‘Housing bubble’

Persimmon is the biggest beneficiary, with almost 15% of the sales made under the Help to Buy Scheme.

Persimmon saw its annual profits top £1bn last year.

Mike Amey, managing director of global investment management firm Pimco, has told the BBC that profit on a house sold by Persimmon had trebled since Help to Buy was introduced, “roughly from £20,000 to £60,000”.

Fran Boait, executive director of campaigning body Positive Money, said: “It’s now beyond clear that rather than helping those who can’t afford to buy a home, Help To Buy has mainly been a subsidy for a housing bubble, benefiting property developers and existing home owners.”

The government’s investment is expected to be returned from the scheme by 2032 after it closes in 2023. However, the size of the loans mean it is very much exposed to the performance of the housing market.

From April 2021, the scheme will be restricted just to first-time buyers.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48610977