Tagged: affordable housing

Research shows average North-East worker can not afford to buy a home

Buying a house is now of reach for most first-time buyers in the region, according to auditors and tax-advisors KMPG.

The company says that its research shows that the minimum annual wage a first-time buyer would need to buy a home in the North-East is now just under £24,000, with the actual average annual wage at £20,000.

A poll commissioned by KMPG showed that 67 per cent of people in the region believe there isn’t enough affordable housing in the UK, 69 per cent of North-Easterners would rather buy than rent and 52 per cent agree that owning property helps save for retirement.

Research from KPMG also shows that the divergence between house prices and wages has grown so that a first time buyer in the North-East would need an annual wage of £23,616 to get onto the property ladder, with the actual average annual wage in the region at £20,149.

However there was some good news for North-East potential house buyers. The survey showed that the North-East has the closest gap between required and actual annual wage in England, with a UK average of £40,553 annual income needed to buy a home while the national average wage is £22,044.

Of those not already on the property ladder in the North East, 39 per cent would like to buy within the next ten years. However there is 22 per cent more non-homeowners in the North-East than in the rest of the UK who intend to buy.

Mick Thompson, office senior partner at KPMG in Newcastle, said: “These figures make for concerning reading and show that housing affordability in the region is no longer just a problem for lower wage earners.”

Summary findings and the full KPMG/Shelter ‘Building the Homes We Need’ report can be found on a dedicated website at thehomesweneed.org.uk

Source – Northern Echo, 04 May 2015

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Leazes Homes chairman pens open letter to David Cameron on extending Right-to-Buy

A stark warning setting out “grave concerns” about extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants has been issued to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Bill Midgley, chairman of Newcastle-based social housing provider Leazes Homes, accuses the politician of using “the sanctity of a person’s home” as an “election bargaining chip” after the pledge was revealed in the Conservative Party Manifesto last week.

Mr Midgley echoes fears voiced by others in the sector as he outlines how a policy that forces associations to sell off their assets would mean they have less borrowing power.

Because of this, he says, associations could not build more homes for some of the most vulnerable in society, including “older people, those with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems.

The letter reads:

“If organisations like us are unable to secure loan funding for supported housing properties then the potential damage is unthinkable. It is essential that such accommodation can be provided by the affordable housing sector.”

The Tories say the plan opens the possibility of home ownership up to thousands of people who may otherwise be locked out of the market.

The National Housing Federation estimates there are 19,620 people in the North East who would be eligible for a mortgage under the plans and that it will cost £808m to implement the policy.

But Mr Midgley fears poor people may be forced to pay higher rents in the private sector.

Signing off the letter to Mr Cameron, he said:

“I urge you to reconsider this proposal. We have a duty as a society to provide our citizens with good-quality, affordable housing, but the sanctity of a person’s home is not something to be used as a bargaining chip to secure election votes.”

Guy Opperman, the Conservative candidate for Hexham defended the policy –

“We want more people who work hard and save up to be able to enjoy the security of owning their own home.

“Right now it is too difficult for housing association tenants to buy their own home. Until now the Right to Buy has only been available to tenants in local authority properties. This means there are around 500,000 housing association tenants who have no right to buy their home.

“The Right to Buy scheme has already helped around two million families to realise their dream of owning a home. By now extending the Right to Buy to housing associations tenants, we will help more people who want to move on and up the housing ladder.

“Our proposals will increase house building, increase home ownership and reduce waiting lists. Right to Buy improves social mobility and builds mixed communities.

“It gives something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules and gives people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.”

The Conservatives have pledged to improve their help-to-buy scheme and have also committed to 200,000 new starter homes in their manifesto.

Similarly Labour says it will build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and that private sector rent would be capped should Ed Miliband be Prime Minister.

The Lib Dems have pledged 300,000 homes a year, and ten garden cities as well as a rent-to-buy ownership scheme.

UKIP plan to build one million homes on brownfield sites by 2020, and Nigel Farage wants to restrict right-to-buy and help-to-buy schemes to British nationals.

Should the Greens win power they will regulate private sector rent and build 500,000 social homes.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015

Berwick : Relay highlights lack of affordable housing

A team from Four Housing took the lead leg in a mammoth 500 mile, people powered ‘relay’ aiming to end the UK’s housing crisis within a generation.

They joined housing associations from across the region taking part in the Homes for Britain ‘Relay to the Rally’ which set off from Berwick on Sunday.

Four Housing chief executive Paul Tanney said:

“There is insufficient housing in the area and what is available is often unaffordable. We are seeing an increase in the disparity between the needs of communities and the supply of appropriate housing.

“We need the right type of accommodation in the right place in order to lessen the burden on local authorities in the future, all of which will enable us to contribute to vibrant and active communities.”

The relay is due to finish at Westminster in London in time for the national Homes for Britain rally on March 17.

In the north east, Four Housing, Bernicia, Isos, Cestria, Home Group, Gentoo, Livin, North Star, Thirteen and Coast and Country are carrying a symbolic key from Berwick to Whitby, shining a spotlight on housing issues in the region, and visiting some of the key projects bringing homes and related services to people desperately in need of affordable housing.

At the same time as the north east relay is working its way south, a specially commissioned double decker bus is also winding its way from Land’s End to London, visiting some of the south and south west’s most vital housing projects.

Homes for Britain is campaigning for the next government to come up with a long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis within a year of getting into office. It is being backed by thousands of people up and down the country who have joined forces with organisations from every corner of the housing world.

Across the UK, housing association staff, residents and members of the public are making their way to London for the biggest housing rally in a generation. They will unite to call on all political parties to take bold action and end the housing crisis within a generation.

Homes for Britain’s call comes at a time when housing demand vastly outstrip supply at both a national and local level.

The Home Truths report shows that over the next 20 years in the north east region alone, there will be 156,000 new families or households, all of whom will need homes, but at current building rates, 75,000 will have nowhere to live.

Meanwhile, some areas are in desperate need of regeneration and jobs, and having the right types of homes in the right places can play a vital role in sparking new life into these communities.

The Homes for Britain campaign needs people to add their voice – anyone wanting to get involved can write to their local politicians and share the message on social media using #HomesForBritain.

Source – Berwick Advertiser, 04 Mar 2015

More social engineering and exploiting low income families for profit

Order Of Truth

socenghouseIt was only yesterday that we wrote about Cameron’s social engineering policy and the disgraceful way low income families and people on benefits were being targeted in the name of profit.

Today, Westminster Council has revealed what they describe as the government’s ‘insane’ new vacant building credit scheme which could cost the council up to £1 billion in housing payments.

As usual, it is the super-rich investors who benefit from the changes at the expense of the poor and vulnerable in our society. People trying to make a better life for themselves struggling against an ever unequal and oppressive government.

The following is from The Guardian

Housing developers in the UK could gain hundreds of millions of pounds in windfall profits under a new policy that lets them reduce contributions to building affordable housing or even avoid paying altogether, a council has claimed.

Since December, the government has exempted anyone…

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Sunderland housing firm signs London homes deal with Boris Johnson

> Gentoo, if I remember correctly, is what used to be Sunderland Council’s council housing stock department before it all got privatised. Now it mainly builds houses for sale – affordable insomuch that anything is affordable to someone with lots of cash. What we really need is new housing at affordable rents.

Gentoo is joining forces with Mayor of London Boris Johnson to bring 2,000 affordable new homes to the capital.

> Oi ! 2000 affordable new homes in Sunderland first would be nice.

The Doxford International-based housing company’s Genie Home Purchase Plan, which is targeted at helping first-time buyers and long-term renters on to the property ladder, is to launch in the city with £40million loan finance backing from the Greater London Authority (GLA) through the Mayor’s Revolving Fund, which gives recoverable loans for new forms of affordable housing.

The moves comes after Genie’s successful pilot in the North East, which has seen 88 families move into homes of their own.

Genie is now looking for development opportunities for the first 500 new homes.

Boris Johnson said:

“Plans like this provide more accessibility and flexibility for purchasers who may struggle to save large deposits and funding will help accelerate the delivery of much needed new homes across London.”

Genie managing director Steve Hicks said:

“This 10-year partnership with the GLA will help customers into a minimum of 2,000 new homes in the capital who otherwise would have struggled to own their own homes, because of the difficult market conditions in London.”

> On its website, Gentoo informs us under the heading What Makes Us Special :

Gentoo’s uniqueness and strength comes from the dedication, skill and energy of our staff; they live our values daily and work to deliver Gentoo’s vision and
mission.

Vision – to improve the Art of Living beyond our imagination.

Mission – we generate wealth by improving the lives of our customers and re-invest it through passionate people to create a climate for personal and collective opportunity.

Values

• Believe nothing is impossible
• Re-imagine the future
• We cultivate a learning curiosity
• Live authentic relationships
• Give us all you’ve got

> I would be particularly worried by that last one… including your very soul, perhaps ?

Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 Jan 2015

North East Sees Sharp Drop In Building Of Affordable Homes, Figures Reveal

Housebuilding has collapsed in most of the region – despite Government claims of a “success story”.

 

The number of ‘affordable homes’ being built has fallen in 13 of 17 areas since the Coalition came to power, after housing programmes were axed.

And it has plunged sharply in many areas, including in Hartlepool (down 62.5 per cent), Middlesbrough (down 59.1 per cent) and Stockton-on-Tees (down 54.5 per cent).

The lack of new homes is even more acute in North Yorkshire, in Hambleton (down 76.9 per cent), Ryedale (down 66.7 per cent) and York (down 85.2 per cent).

In Richmondshire, not a single affordable home – those available at lower rents, or for shared ownership – was completed in 2013-14.

Yet, in 2010-11, the year the Coalition came to power, 60 were built, the official figures show.

Only South Tyneside, where 1,050 affordable homes were completed last year, bucked the trend, cutting the decline across the region to 15.3 per cent.

Last week, the department for communities and local government (DCLG) claimed its record on affordable housing since 2010 was a “clear success story”.

 It said that nearly 200,000 such homes had been built, including 2,380 in the North-East and North Yorkshire.

But ministers totted up four years’ of figures to reach that tally – and the statistics for previous years reveal a different story.

Rachel Fisher, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, said: “It is nowhere near enough.

“Demand is still far exceeding supply. England needs around 240,000 new homes a year. We need to build more of the right homes, in the right place, at the right price.”

Emma Reynolds, for Labour, said: “We have repeatedly called for action on housing supply, particularly on the need for more affordable homes, but this government has failed to act.

“Under David Cameron, the number of homes built has fallen to the lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s.”

The chronic shortage of housing is an issue rising up the political agenda, with hundreds of thousands of families languishing on council waiting lists.

Meanwhile, town halls remain barred from borrowing money to build homes, as the Government relies on the private sector to step in.

But Kris Hopkins, the housing minister said: “Our affordable house-building efforts are a clear success story, with nearly 200,000 new affordable homes delivered since April 2010.

“It means families have new homes available to them, whether to rent at an affordable rate or to buy through our shared ownership schemes.”

Across England, 41,654 affordable homes were built last year – well down on the 53,172 in the year before the last general election.

Source – Northern Echo,  20 June 2014