Housing

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Zoned out: how land use restrictions divide the nation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/01/2022 - 4:55am in

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Housing

Housing policies ensure continual wealth gains for current home owners while leaving renters and potential buyers locked out of the market. Housing policy is a battle between the haves and the have-nots. The haves are the current generation of wealthy home owners. They have enjoyed large capital gains over the past few decades and are sitting Continue reading »

The Minister of Housing’s Mandate Letter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 12:56am in

On 16 December 2021, mandate letters for Canada’s federal ministers were made public. The letter for Canada’s Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion contains an important set of marching orders.

I break it down in this ‘top 10’ blog post: https://nickfalvo.ca/the-minister-of-housings-mandate-letter/

The Minister of Housing’s Mandate Letter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 12:56am in

On 16 December 2021, mandate letters for Canada’s federal ministers were made public. The letter for Canada’s Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion contains an important set of marching orders.

I break it down in this ‘top 10’ blog post: https://nickfalvo.ca/the-minister-of-housings-mandate-letter/

Building Back Botched

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/01/2022 - 11:01am in

Building Back Botched

The Government’s housing and construction plans are failing to deliver the country’s housing needs, a new parliamentary report has found

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The Government’s ‘Building Back Better’ target of 300,000 new homes a year will fail unless there are radical changes in everything from planning to tackling huge skills shortages in the construction industry, a new report by peers claims today.

It states that more than £50 billion of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on the Chancellor’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme and on housing benefits which would be better spent on building new homes.

The new Lords Built Environment Committee, chaired by Baroness Lucy Neville Rolfe – a former Conservative Treasury and Business Minister – states that blockages across the building industry and planning departments are holding back the Government’s “ambitious” targets to build one million new homes by 2025.

Rishi Sunak’s £29 billion Help to Buy scheme which gives first-time buyers a 20% equity loan – 40% in Greater London – has failed to stimulate new building except on the English-Welsh border and made some situations worse. In Greater London, it has “led to a substantive increase in house prices, with no statistically significant effect on construction numbers”. The report calls for it to be scrapped and money ploughed into housing.

Similarly, the £23.4 billion spent on housing benefits every year is going on subsidising high priced rented accommodation and would in the long-term be better spent on new affordable social housing for the poor, the report finds.


Housing Benefit Freeze toLeave Low-Income PrivateRenters Out in the Cold
Chaminda Jayanetti

It goes on to list a catalogue of failures that are holding back the building programme and states that the uncertainty around the future of planning is having a “chilling” factor on house building.

“It is impossible to have a ‘plan-led’ system of development in the absence of local plans and without sufficient planners,” the report states. “Currently, more than half of local planning authorities do not have an up-to-date local plan. Spending on planning has fallen by 14.6% since 2010 causing delays, issues with recruitment, and staff shortages in many authorities. Any new planning system will only work if local planning authorities have the resources and staff to implement it.” 

The report states that there is a huge shortage of skilled people which is holding up construction. Some 217,000 carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, roofers, civil engineers and other skilled traders need to be recruited. Peers blame the failure of the Construction Industry Training Board for not planning ahead to deal with this. At the moment, there are 48,000 vacancies for skilled traders – nearly double the figure before the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Skills shortages in the construction, design and planning sectors must be addressed to unlock the required development,” the peers said. “This will include broadening the base of talent, upskilling and reskilling, including for the green skills needed to address climate change. The number of apprenticeships starts has fallen by over 25% since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.”

Women currently make up 4% of the workforce and ethnic minorities just 1% of senior staff.

The skills shortage is also compounded by the collapse of small and medium-sized house-building firms. In the 1980s, such companies accounted for almost 40% of house builders. Now, they account for just 10%. The peers call for help to expand their role including better access for finance, the release of more small plots for development and fast-track planning procedures.

The report includes figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that housing demand will increase by 2028, with the population expected to grow by three million mainly through immigration. It predicts that some 5.4 million people will come to the UK and that 3.3 million will leave. The increase will outstrip the growth in the population living here which will rise by 800,000. This means that 164,000 new households will need new homes every year.

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The report also cites one possible solution – an innovative plan by a research group in Greater Manchester to build new homes on spare land next to and near 242 commuter stations with the aim of reducing the use of cars. This could provide 395,000 new homes.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “Uncertainty and the absence of a clear policy direction has only exacerbated housing problems. Our report provides a package of proposals to help deliver much-needed housing and address the critical undersupply of new homes.”

Steve Radley, strategy and policy director of CITB, the industry training board for the construction industry, told Byline Times: “Skill shortages in home building are long-standing, have many causes and many organisations have a role in addressing them. CITB grants have helped employers train and recruit thousands of workers but there are many more young people full-time in colleges who would jump at the chance to work in the industry if more employers offered apprenticeships.     

“CITB has made a significant investment of time and money to help address this in recent years. This includes a partnership with the Home Builders Federation to support more effective collaboration between major builders and their supply chains, traineeships that will bring further education students in areas such as bricklaying into work and supporting master classes to improve the skills of existing workers.

“We are also supporting employers that are looking to use new approaches by investing In training to support offsite construction. Our new business plan will introduce a further package of measures to support apprenticeship and work experience and raise the skills of existing workers.”

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The post Building Back Botched appeared first on Byline Times.

Renegade Predictions 2022

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 5:01pm in

A selection of Renegade Inc. guests mull over events of the past year and make suggestions as to what we can expect for the year ahead.

The post Renegade Predictions 2022 appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Renegade Predictions 2022

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 5:01pm in

A selection of Renegade Inc. guests mull over events of the past year and make suggestions as to what we can expect for the year ahead.

The post Renegade Predictions 2022 appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Monthly digest on housing affordability and homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/12/2021 - 4:30am in

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Housing

This is the latest monthly digest of articles, research reports, policy announcements and other material about housing stress/affordability and homelessness. New NSW planning policy looks good for people but developers are furious The Fifth Estate’s Tina Perinotto reports on reactions to the NSW government’s release of its new draft State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which NSW’s Planning Continue reading »

COVID and Homelessness: Ten things to know

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/12/2021 - 12:34am in

I was recently invited by the The Economics Society of Northern Alberta to speak at their 2022 Outlook Conference about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on homelessness.

Here’s an overview of my presentation: https://nickfalvo.ca/covid-and-homelessness-ten-things-to-know/

COVID and Homelessness: Ten things to know

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/12/2021 - 12:34am in

I was recently invited by the The Economics Society of Northern Alberta to speak at their 2022 Outlook Conference about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on homelessness.

Here’s an overview of my presentation: https://nickfalvo.ca/covid-and-homelessness-ten-things-to-know/

Grenfell to Downing Street: The Government’s Impunity and Disdain Has Existed for Years

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/12/2021 - 2:02am in

Grenfell to Downing StreetThe Government’s Impunity and Disdain Has Existed for Years

Adrian Goldberg reports on another half-hearted apology from the Government – this time in relation to the Grenfell fire tragedy

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Downing Street is engulfed in a row about whether or not it hosted a Christmas party last year after ordering the rest of the country into lockdown, but this isn’t the first instance of the Government acting with impunity – or to the detriment of its own citizens – in relation to public health.

Despite the scale of public outrage at the time, the Government’s culpability for the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in 2017, has largely flown under the radar.

Yet, lawyers acting for the Government said at the public inquiry into the disaster yesterday that it was “deeply sorry” for its failures of oversight during the construction and refurbishment of tower blocks, including Grenfell.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is responsible for building standards, acknowledged that the tragedy might not have happened “had there been a functional enforcement system”, but also blamed the construction industry for failing to follow the rules.

Survivors and bereaved relatives represented by the Grenfell United campaign group were distinctly unimpressed, dismissing the apology as “deeply offensive”.

They declared that “the system isn’t broken, it was built this way” pointing towards systemic failings that contributed to the fire.

Their views are echoed by Justice For Grenfell campaigner Yvette Williams, who told the Byline Times Podcast that in the years leading up to the tragedy, there had been sustained efforts to offload public land and buildings to private investors.

“That fire didn’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “There was a drive to close down our public library, there was a selling off of public assets to a private school, one of the local nurseries that had been here since the 70s was suddenly shut down. 

“There was gentrification and wilful neglect of [council-owned] properties where they’d just run it down and say ‘it’s too bad to repair it, why don’t you move to Milton Keynes?’”


The Final Betrayal ofGrenfell Victims Looms
Tom Charles

This is nothing new of course. ‘Private enterprise – good; public ownership – bad’ has been a Conservative mantra since Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, and continues unabated today – not just in the housing sector, but across many parts of the economy, including the water and energy industries, the railways and, most controversially, the NHS.

At the same time, Whitehall has conspired in a degradation of local authority provision, with a period of public sector austerity forcing councils across the country to cut many valued services, including a 32% reduction in the number of health and safety inspectors over the last decade.

In the case of Grenfell, lax supervision by the local Conservative-led administration and greed on the part of firms hired to carry out the refurbishment led to the installation of cheap cladding which turned a small kitchen fire into a conflagration – spreading throughout the entire block, with deadly consequences.

“Looking at the evidence it’s clear that cost-cutting led to this terrible disaster. It was completely avoidable,” says journalist Richard Norton Taylor, whose play ‘Value Engineering’ is based on the first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry.

A Compounding Problem

There are now calls from survivors’ groups for the Government to compel former Prime Minister David Cameron to attend the Inquiry. If Cameron does attend, he’s likely to face an uncomfortable ride. He stands accused of empowering careless private sector firms while starving local services of resources.

In a speech in 2012, Cameron described health and safety legislation as “an albatross around the neck of small businesses” and called for the scrapping of half of all existing regulations.

Disdain for the small print extends, of course, to the current incumbent of Downing Street – and not just over the question of last year’s festive gatherings. Johnson’s failure to wear a mask at Hexham Hospital last month; his support for Dominic Cummings over his alleged trip to Barnard Castle; the attempt to re-write parliamentary rules to protect Conservative MP Owen Patterson; and calls for a post-Brexit “bonfire of regulations” are all representative of his personal laissez-faire philosophy.

This found its deadliest expression in the Government’s ‘too slow to lockdown, too quick to open up’ response to the pandemic, which contributed to the mass spread of the virus and the avoidable deaths of thousands of people.

It’s tempting to draw conclusions from the fact that both Cameron and Johnson attended Eton College and exude the air of arrogance and entitlement that often goes with it – a sense that rules are for ‘the little people’, not for the likes of them.

That said, their view of the world is widely shared by Conservative backbenchers, press barons, newspaper columnists and radio shock jocks – many of whom didn’t attend the eminent institution.

The hard evidence shows that the little people suffer from the consequences of reckless impunity. And if the Government’s apology for its failings over Grenfell Tower is to mean anything, it’s time it changed approach.

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The post Grenfell to Downing Street: The Government’s Impunity and Disdain Has Existed for Years appeared first on Byline Times.

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