Yesterday, George Osborne announced a further extension of the Help to Buy scheme, possibly to lower the average age of the voters his announcements were aimed at, but also (and perhaps more realistically) to address the housing crisis we have in the UK today.
Last weekend the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission released a report which was pretty much a challenge to the political parties; tell us how you are going to tackle poverty and improve social mobility.
The Commission is led by the Labour MP, Blairite and always-entertaining Alan Milburn.
Since the downturn in 2008, global investors have looked to property as a safe home for their money. Sales of properties valued over £10 million in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York doubled between 2009 and 2013.
After what the investment banks did to us in 2007/2008 you wouldn’t expect there to be loads of enthusiasm for setting up more banks.
Housing is one of the big political issues of our time. It may not be a vote swinger in the coming election or even much of an electoral battleground, but it is nonetheless one of the largest policy challenges of our time.
Land value tax is a levy on the value of land. Where that land has a higher value, the revenue from the levy is higher. This simple concept is crucial to understanding how land value tax can encourage density, reduce urban sprawl and ensure land is used as it is demanded.
Land value tax has huge opportunities for better aligning incentives most efficiently using land. However, there are issues that land value tax would have to overcome ranging from financial impacts to politics.
Firstly, those who are asset-rich but cash-poor would be affected.
A land value tax is a charge on the ownership of land. It is generally thought of as an annual levy on land ownership whereby the value of the land, excluding the property/properties value/s that sit on the land.
The benefits to such a levy are wide-ranging.
Firstly, it would raise revenue for the exchequer.
Since the early 1970s, house prices have risen at an exponential rate.
Today is Housing Day; a campaign organised to celebrate social housing. Social housing is of huge importance and is going to prove a massive challenge for the next government. It is also part of a larger problem whose name is often spoken but whose solutions are rarely mentioned; the housing crisis.
As you are reading this, you won’t need me to tell you that there is a housing crisis in England. Affordability is of most concern to London and the South while there are broadly issues attributed to lower demand in the North. Granted, these are sweeping generalisations and there is a fundamental local aspect – often at the street level – to housing.
I was a plumber at the time of the strike. I was elected to the council in the middle of the strike in September 1984. I spent part of my time going round pro bono fixing the heating and plumbing systems of striking miners. I was repeatedly stopped by the police, both in the process of my election and going about my lawful business.
Avid readers of this blog will have seen my post on property wealth and how London is a world of its own. To follow on from this, let’s look at property wealth in a slightly different way.
The world and his dog are now talking about house prices. There is not a day that goes by without a story about rocketing prices, people being priced out and concerns of a bubble. And rightly so; housing is on the agenda like never before because it is affecting a huge number of people.
Yesterday, the Guardian carried a piece warning about the tragic effects of the current economic climate of the UK upon homelessness. Homelessness across the UK has increased 26% in four years and by 75% in London alone over the same period.
Yesterday Ed Miliband spoke at the launch of the IPPR’s ‘Condition of Britain’ report saying that the Labour party would be adopting some of the key points from the report as party policy. One of the areas where Miliband has taken policy from the report is housing.
Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project (wdcfplus) was set up to recognise and respond to local needs arising from deprivation in my ward. I was also preparing for the impact of the Government’s Welfare Act on communities, particularly from benefits changes, Bedroom Tax and the oncoming Universal Credit.
The Peckham Experiment was a pioneering project designed to cultivate whole-community health that ran from 1926-1950.
Today, Ed Miliband has announced policy on housing that adds to Labour’s vision of fixing the cost of living crisis. For months Labour has been framing their announcements in terms of this and today they have confirmed their approach to housing.
The miners lost because they only had the constitution. The other side had bayonets. In the end the bayonets always win.
Mary Harris Jones
Last week the government announced the closure of two of the last deep-pit mines in Britain at Kellingley in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire.
Often in our local Labour parties we hear cries of ‘we need more young people’, only to thrust a handful of leaflets in their hand when they come along and tell them they have young legs so can deliver the most difficult set of flats in their ward.
George Osborne’s Budget has appeared to bet the house on an election win in 2015. While his announcement was neither flash nor hard-hitting, a couple of announcements, when brought together, will have wider implications.
The first of these is Help to Buy.
In a speech today, Ed Miliband is to set out plans for a progressive program to facilitate a massive rise in house building, putting flesh on one of his key announcements from conference.
Simply put, the UK suffers from a large and fundamental housing crisis. It is estimated that the UK needs to build around 230,000 houses per year to just keep pace with demand (let alone alleviate the six-decade under supply) but we have only managed this figure once in 31 years (1988).
Data from the 2011 Census, released in December, shone a long overdue light on the housing crisis. One of the key findings was that the proportion of households renting in the private sector has increased by 69% over the last decade. One in six households now rent privately.
This year’s Prince’s Trust Youth Index on the emotional and mental wellbeing of my generation came out last Wednesday, with the news that one in 10 young people (16-25) feel they cannot cope with day-to-day life, and 28% of all young people feel depressed “always” or “often”.
Ed Miliband is not someone who shies away from a challenge. He has demonstrated this admirably since becoming Labour leader. Getting to grips with the thorny issue of immigration is one thing. Getting to grips with his party’s record on the subject is another. This year he has attempted to do both.
Yesterday, Jason Beattie at the Mirror revealed a massive cut to the Crime Prevention budget, funds that would have been used locally by elected Police and Crime Commissioners. This massive shortfall in funding means that many of the elected police chiefs will not be able to properly fulfil the role set out for them.
At the Fabian Women’s Network Labour conference fringe on Monday October 1st, we asked “How can Labour solve the childcare crisis?” We believe that answering this question is urgent – a position shared by the others contributing to the debate, including the Family and Parenting Institute and the Co-operative Party.
Published on the eve of the Party Conference season, the 29th British Social Attitudes Survey makes for interesting reading. At first glance the Survey seems to paint a picture of an increasingly individualistic and xenophobic populace.
With the economy still flatlining and the Conservative-led coalition’s policies making things worse for most working people, Ed Miliband’s messages about responsible capitalism and pre-distribution reflect the concerns and values of many voters.
Change and transformation has been on the cards for Royal Mail for many years now. Being a government-owned postal service, it has battled successive governments’ plans for privatisation since the 1980s, and the Postal Services Act 2011 is ensuring the government can continue that tradition. Royal Mail handles approximately 4.
Mortgage fraud has increased dramatically. According to Experian, in 2011, 34 out of every 10,000 applications were deemed to be fraudulent, which is more than double the 2006 figures of 15 out of every 10,000 applications.
A lot has been written about the Liberal Democrat councillors cast out of office in northern cities like Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle, but the Conservatives waning attempts at gaining a footing in the urban north is arguably more significant. It demonstrates that for hugely important parts of the country the Tories remain a toxic proposition.
In recent speeches Ed Miliband has made clear his determination to place Labour and values within a framework of national renewal. ‘Rebuilding Britain’ and rebuilding Britain’s economy, policies and society have been consistent themes in his speeches and conversations in the run up to Conference.
The statistics released yesterday show a 25% spike in the number of homeless people on our streets. This is simply not acceptable. We all know it. The government knows it. Yet it is wilfully ignoring all of the markers in its housing policy which should have shown that this outcome was a foregone conclusion.
The financial crisis and slowing economy has brought the topic of housing back to the frontline of policy debates, yet the problems within this market started many decades before.
High house prices are not a new phenomenon – although the recent decade’s increase in credit availability had accentuated it.
Nye Bevan was right, ‘the purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.’ We have one of the most centralised states in the world. Of the major industrial nations only New Zealand controls more of its public expenditure centrally than we do.
The Government’s ‘City Deals’ mark one of the biggest shifts towards devolution of power to local areas that England has seen for decades. It’s a day to celebrate some hard-won freedoms and flexibilities – but there’s a long road to travel before cities can say they have real autonomy over their local economies.
It’s easy to mock the breakdown of the Conservatives’ ‘Big Society’ – I have myself. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s agreeably vexatious phrase, it’s in danger of being seen as aspirational waffle, though he has in the past voiced admiration for the associational ideals that lie behind the idea.
The Olympics are coming to town for the first time since 1948. And in 2012, as just in the aftermath of the second world war, a housing crisis has been brewing in Britain. In fact, it’s reaching boiling point.
Since patriotism is so often condemned as ‘a grave moral error’ or as ‘an infantile disease’ – not to mention ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’ – it is only proper to begin with a short defence of why patriotism and nation-building matter to the Left.
Among the themes likely to shape British politics over the next fifty years, two in particular are under-discussed. One is an ageing population, meaning increased spending on pensions and healthcare. The other is the decline of home-ownership and an inexorable rise in the private rental sector.
On Sunday, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, announced – in an interview with the Independent on Sunday – a new tougher approach to what the Government has called England’s ‘120,000 troubled families’.
It’s four o’clock on a Sunday in Bath and the long-promised sun has finally come out. I’ve just finished running a training weekend for fifteen adults. The participants are a diverse bunch; a solicitor, an estate agent, a retired teacher, a former employee of Goldman Sachs. There’s even a telecoms entrepreneur who’s just sold his own business.
During Thought for the Day on Thursday 24th May the Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge addressed the problem of the loneliness and isolation of the elderly in today’s society, particularly in urban areas. Especially emblematic of this, argued Dr Michael Banner, was the fact that so many elderly people eat alone day after day.
In 1999, Tony Blair made what was a quite remarkable commitment: to end child poverty in the UK.
It was one of the boldest and most ambitious pledges made during the whole New Labour era. It came after nearly 20 years of rising child poverty rates that saw almost 1 in 3 children living in poverty.
In a previous post, I wrote in favour of a model of public service based not on a transaction, “service-user” model, but on selfless commitment to one’s neighbour. It is surely to be lamented that such an ethos has disappeared from so much of the public sector (with, certainly, notable exceptions).
Ed Miliband has made ‘fairness in tough times’ a major theme of his leadership. The leaders of the other major political parties have also sought to lay claim to the ‘fairness’ mantle. They are right to suppose that much of the unfairness in our society can only be tackled at a national – or international – level.
Read the first part of this piece here.
An increasing number of Labour politicians are using the term the common good.
There is a growing recognition that its emphasis on relationships, democracy, community and locality can address the problems of social fragmentation and popular estrangement from mainstream politics.
There are 2.65 million unemployed people in Britain. 1.7 million people are on the waiting list for social housing, while 2 million say they struggle to pay their rent or mortgage. I would not be the first person to point out that a mass programme of house-building would go some way to alleviate the unemployment problem.
This is a moment Ed needs to grasp. Cameron’s ratings are slipping and Labour’s lead in the polls is stabilising, but we need something big to really start to build positive Labour support.
Ed has so far been clear that he doesn’t want to over-promise and under-deliver, and I agree that Labour cannot and should not promise the earth.
Arriving where Jesus’ body had lain, the disciple notices the grave-clothes rolled up in a corner of the tomb: ‘he saw and he believed’.
Such conviction does not come easily to the majority of Britons today, of whom many indeed are suspicious of what can seem blind faith.
It’s an unusually hot spring afternoon in east London.
As colourfully painted barges chug past the new Olympic Media Centre and day trippers wave from the boats, I find myself standing with a youngish woman in a slightly ramshackle – but nonetheless luscious – communal garden on the banks of the canal.
And things are getting radical.
Government housing policy has fallen off the political agenda recently, but a series of reports over the past few weeks have shown that the housing crisis in Britain is escalating at an alarming rate.
A clause smuggled into the Legal Aid Bill at the last minute will create a new criminal class – the estimated twenty to fifty thousand people who squat in empty buildings. The change in the law is driven by an unholy alliance of property developers, big landlords, and the right-wing press.
Truly transformative politics is always the politics of unlikely alliances.
In 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party drew together a fresh coalition of returning soldiers, the industrial working class and middle class professionals by promising to build a new welfare state that would protect the interests of all.