House prices rose dramatically in 2014, with one estimate putting the average UK rise at 8.5 per cent. Some areas of the country, most notably London, saw prices leap higher than this, causing affordability and bubble concerns. At the same time prices in other parts of the country, particularly in areas where the effects of the economic crisis are still being felt, saw declines over 2014. Meanwhile, waiting lists for social housing continued to grow. To mark the end of 2014 we’ve compiled our top articles revolving around the theme of housing. For our full archive on the issue, click here.
What lies behind Britain’s crisis of housing affordability? As Paul Cheshire explains, it is nothing to do with foreign speculators but decades of planning policies that constrain the supply of houses and land and turn them into something like gold or artworks. He also exposes myths about the social and environmental benefits of ‘greenbelts’.
Ed Miliband unveiled proposals intended to benefit renters, which were quickly denounced as old-fashioned ‘rent-control’ by his opponents. Christine Whitehead examines the Labour leader’s proposals in detail, arguing that they do not definitively deal with the issue. The private rented sectors needs to be addressed by more coherent, nuanced and evidence-based policies.
3. Danny Dorling: “The rise in income and wealth inequality that began from the 1970s onwards has become a housing problem in the end”
Danny Dorling discusses his new book, All That Is Solid: The Great Housing Disaster, in this interview with Joel Suss, managing editor of the British Politics and Policy blog. He traces the roots of the housing crisis in the UK, connects the housing issue with economic inequality, and argues for what’s to be done.
There is something profoundly wrong with our housing system: demand and prices continue to rise yet supply does not, largely due to the development process. Toby Lloyd argues that any serious attempt to address the housing crisis must include measures to change the land market, allowing those who want to build to buy land at a low cost.
Alternative housing logics and forms of accommodation, Melissa Fernández argues, can provide London with a partial solution to its housing supply crisis, but their individual contexts, prospects and constraints within the capital city need to be better known and understood. A new project by LSE London will be exploring this (and another three key topics) through a series of events, site visits and publications over the coming year.
The size of the private rented sector in London was considerably larger than other regions in 2001 (14.3%) and the difference increased further in the following decade. At the moment the jury is still out on the extent to which London is the canary in the mine of a national housing crisis or an interesting anomaly, writes Ben Pattison.
The London property market is potentially in bubble territory with demand clearly outstripping supply, causing prices to rise to eye-watering levels. What can be done to bring prices down? Kath Scanlon explores the possible policy routes in detail. She argues that local authorities can make it a condition of planning permission that dwellings remain in private rental for a specified period, encouraging the supply of new build housing that London desperately needs. But since new homes will only ever be a tiny proportion of transactions, she writes that we also need to persuade older ‘over-occupiers’ to downsize.
8. Despite what many believe, there is no evidence that immigrants have preferential access to social housing
Many white people in the UK feel that social landlords actively discriminate against them in favour of immigrants and ethnic minorities. Research by Alan Manning and colleagues finds no basis in reality for this perceived discrimination – but the recent history of social housing gives an indication of why that view has become so entrenched.
Looking back to the 1974 Housing Act can help those who support the continuance and expansion of social housing to fashion a new vision, writes Kevin Gulliver. For one, looking back shows the relative success of directing the lion’s share of public subsidy into bricks and mortar rather than subsidising rents through the housing benefit system.