31 July, 2015

The Hidden Truths Behind Shared Ownership

The idea of planting your first foot on the housing ladder for under £100,000 might seem like a dream, but it’s one being sold as a reality to thousands of Londoners every week.

“Get on the ladder” for just under £74,000 in the “property hotspot” of Acton, read a piece in the Evening Standard’s property section in July.

Another offer weeks later was the chance to buy into Platinum Riverside, a (literally) shiny new high-end development in Greenwich. The price of a one-bedroom flat begins at just under £84,000.

Amazing, it seems.

There are, of course, several catches to these apparently unbelievable offers. And many are hidden away in the fine print.

This article first appeared in The Londonist.
15 April, 2015

The real winners (and losers) of the Tory right-to-buy scheme

Much dust was kicked up by the Conservative pledge to widen right-to-buy to housing association tenants. How dare the Tories offer six-figure discounts on homes that don’t belong to them? Or so the housing chiefs thundered, amid threats to mire the idea in a costly court battle.

But as the dust settles, how much of that anger is justified? Will the idea seriously harm the landlords to most of the nation’s social housing tenants?

This article first appeared on the Spectator’s Coffee House Blog.
29 March, 2015

Breaking the taboo: male victims of domestic violence

Freddie has the look of an easy going, metropolitan man. Bearded and tipping 50, he’s all hoodie, headphones, and manbag.

We’ve agreed to meet at the Worcester headquarters of Home Group, a housing association, to talk about his experience as a victim of domestic abuse, and how he has been helped by ‘Rejuvenate’, a service run by Stonham, the housing association’s care and support arm.

Freddie’s barely sat down before he launches into his story. ‘I was in an abusive relationship for nine years,’ he begins. ‘We met on one of the early dating websites which did full psychometric testing. She had seemed like my ideal person.

This article first appeared in the magazine Inside Housing
14 March, 2015

The crisis of masculinity won’t be solved with antidepressants

There’s been much discussion recently about the rise in male suicide rates, after official figures published in February showed they were at their highest level since 2001.

But one aspect of this has attracted little attention: the lack of support for men abused by their partners. In a poll of 130 Citizens Advice Bureaux workers, 63 per cent said it was easy to get help for women reporting domestic abuse, compared to 13 per cent for men.

It’s bad enough that men struggle to find help once they pluck up the courage to ask for it. But they are also less likely than women to look for support in the first place – and more likely to be disbelieved.

This article first appeared on the Spectator’s Coffee House Blog.
10 February, 2015

Why Blackpool has asked the Treasury to slash residents' housing benefit

The largest Labour-run seaside town in England has issued an apparently shocking appeal to the Treasury: Blackpool council has asked for the housing benefit to thousands of its most vulnerable tenants to be slashed by 30%.

But while the request might seem alarming, the council’s leaders believe they have a strong case for the cut. They expect it to help eradicate a pernicious economic phenomenon that blights its housing market and makes its tourist quarters a magnet for people with deeply embedded social problems.

This article first appeared on the Guardian’s website
29 January, 2015

The House-Elphicke report buries a distracting myth on house building

The coalition helped bury an enduring and dangerous myth in a major report into the country’s chronic housing crisis released this week. The year-long probe rubbishes the idea councils are stopped from building new homes by Treasury ‘caps’ on their borrowing powers.

As research published on Coffee House revealed last year, the idea caps hold them back is a distracting myth, perpetuated by special interest groups and parroted by columnists like the Guardian’s Owen Jones.

This article first appeared on the Spectator’s Coffee House Blog.