Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “housing”

What about the Elephants?

This (2015 UK) General Election seems to consist of lots of minor and pretty irrelevant skirmishes. The major issues seem to be un-addressed in the election.

So what are these elephants in the room? Read more…

Taxing Property

George Monbiot writing yesterday about the distorted property market concluded:

Why should capital gains tax not apply to first homes, when they are the country’s primary source of unearned income? Why should council tax banding ensure that the owners of cheap houses are charged at a far greater relative rate than the owners of expensive houses? Why should Rinat Akhmetov pay less council tax for his £136m flat in London than the owners of a £200,000 house in Blackburn? Why should second, third and fourth homes not be charged punitive rates of council tax, rather than qualifying, in many boroughs, for discounts?

The answer, of course, is power: the power of those who benefit from the iniquities of our property market.
The Guardian 2 June 2014: The only way to fairness in housing is to tax property

Oh, please, let’s get a bit deeper than blaming all the above on “power”. We need to examine why those “who benefit from the iniquities of our property market” seem to have such a hold over our parliament.

Read more…

Hubble bubble, rubble trouble

The Prime Minister on yesterday’s Andrew Marr (BBC1 29 September 2013) show says that in respect of the housing market it is not a problem of prices and supply but of the mortgage market not operating properly and he wants to do something about it. Hence the new home-owning subsidies that are being brought forward to create headlines to “decorate” this week’s Conservative Conference. Does he understand? Read more…

Conservative attitudes to the UN (part 1 of many: Housing)

Today we have seen lots of bluster from the Conservatives – particularly their cheer-leader-in-chief, Grant Shapps because they don’t like some criticism from a UN envoy who had dared to criticise the bedroom tax (a.k.a the spare bedroom subsidy). It actually tells us a lot about the Conservatives. Read more…

Housing: Boom, Boom, Boom!

I am reminded of a Garland cartoon at the time when Anthony Barber was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was in the form of a triptych.

  • The first panel showed a cheery chancellor holding up his budget box with the caption “Boom”
  • The second panel showed a cheery chancellor holding up his budget box with the caption “Boom”
  • The third panel showed a dishevelled chancellor holding up a burst budget box with the caption “Boom!”

I fear the current housing boom could go the same way. Read more…

Nastiness (part 2 of many) and this one is legal!

Disabled families have lost a court challenge to social housing benefit cuts for residents with spare bedrooms in England, Wales and Scotland.

The High Court ruled the policy, dubbed the “bedroom tax” by critics, did not unlawfully discriminate against disabled people.

Ten families sought a judicial review of the change, introduced in April.

One claimant described the ruling as an “absolute travesty of justice”, and said they would appeal against it.

Charlotte Carmichael, who has spina bifida and sleeps in a hospital bed which, she argues, her husband and full-time carer cannot share, told the BBC that she felt obliged to pursue the case.

BBC News Website 30 July 2013 Housing benefit challenge dismissed by High Court

The Government says it is “being fair” to the likes of you and me. Read more…

Economics of madness

The current government is leading us in a nasty direction.

They have won the language battle to stigmatise welfare recipients.  Tonight’s BBC News (News channel 23:00 15 July 2013) reported that 70% support the benefit cap.  The government feels that it can demonise the Labour party as “The Welfare Party”.  We use to be a society that was proud that it cared about the welfare of its fellow citizens. No more it seems.

The benefit cap comes in on the same day that the Resolution Foundation reports (Home Truths: How affordable is housing for Britain’s ordinary working families?) that housing costs rule out vast swathes of the country for all but the comfortably off (BBC Website 15 July 2013, Mark Easton: Rent ‘unaffordable’ in third of UK).

It would seem that we don’t care? Read more…

Cameron’s Home Truths

Basically if you are under 25, you can’t have one. (BBC News Website 24 June 192012) Read more…

London is housing a problem

The housing benefit controversy illustrates just what a mess London is in. Read more…

An Englishman’s home is his Castle – or his Jail?

I have been pondering our obsession with ownership of property.

I bought my first home in the early 1980s, it cost me a little over 2½ times my (then low) salary; I had a mortgage of 2½ times my salary with the balance from savings and a small private loan.  Interest rates then jumped to 15%; it hurt but was manageable (just).

Now my current house is worth about 7 times what I might earn in a good year; my mortgage is paid off and I have probably made more from property than I have from saving unspent salary.  By careful trading down, I can probably release a sum that when turned into an annuity, will be worth more than my projected pension. And I live in a low property value area.

But what of someone starting today?  Read more…

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