A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Is there a housing crisis in Croydon?
14/09/2012 16:54:00


From the Croydon Advertiser, 14th September 2012:

Alongside immigration, housing is the issue people most regularly raise with me - people who are struggling to pay the mortgage, people threatened with eviction, people living in overcrowded or otherwise inappropriate conditions. Sadly, there is often little I can do.

The fundamental problem is that for a number of years we haven’t been building enough houses, which has led to an increase in the cost of buying or renting in the private sector and increases in the waiting list for council and housing association properties. This has been going on for some time so there is no quick fix. And even worse, this long term problem is currently being compounded by the difficulty in getting a mortgage, which not only affects general demand but also specifically the supply of homes in the private rented sector because fewer people are able to buy to let.

That’s why the Government’s announcement last Thursday of an additional £300 million to support new affordable homes and bring empty homes into use as well as up to £10 billion of debt guarantees to support investment in the private rented sector was so desperately needed. Welcome too was the news of more help for first-time buyers and the ability to wave unrealistic Section 106 agreements (whereby a developer commits to pay for certain things as part of their planning permission) agreed when the economy was doing much better - unless these agreements are amended, many schemes aren’t viable in the current economic climate. Finally, we are lucky in Croydon to have a Council which is building new council houses and wants to see more housing built in the borough.

But the challenges are huge. Only time will tell if these policies are sufficient to meet them.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 14/09/2012 21:13:00 Jim wrote:
The "crisis" as I see it is a benefits system that sponsors the idle to start families as a means to get housing. This is at the expense of hard working people and in particular working women who increasingly start families later (if at all) because they don't feel they can properly provide for their children.

There will never be enough housing whilst making babies gets you priority for accommodation - it's a vicious circle.

Immigration makes the situation even more ludicrous - newly arrived immigrants typically have 2 or 3 children soon after arrival. Another perverse incentive is that illegal migrants more easily obtain exceptional leave to remain if they've managed to start a family and got their kids into schools.

On 18/09/2012 12:12:00 Simon wrote:
In my opinion, the fundamental problem affecting house and rent levels is greed. Even previously sensible, social, normal individuals end up as crazed, greedy loons once they get involved in the buy-to-let market. The amount asked for in rent often has little to do with the cost of the mortgage, cost of maintenence etc., but more to do with how much can I get away with.

While I applaud the changes being made I'd also suggest the investigation of the introducion of a rent cap/control scheme of some sort (optional and with regional flexibilities, of course), where incentives encourage lower rents and I believe they'll be more affordable housing popping up all over the place.

On 19/09/2012 15:56:00 Jim wrote:
Simon, I agree with you except I don't agree on the greed point. Can't blame people for making money where they can.

Problem is, Housing Benefit has effectively acted as a massive subsidy to buy-to-let landlords. In this sector, tax evasion is routine - people claiming that a property is their main home to avoid CGT, rent paid in cash etc. Low interest rates have helped landlords with mortgages, too. Then we have people with council/housing association places renting them out for cash...

Come to think of it, I've never understood why property (even your main home) should be exempt from capital gains tax. If you sell your house at a profit, why shouldn't you pay tax? This would seem much more logical than stamp duty (which hinders liquidity in the market) and inheritance tax.

Can't see the government doing much to hurt homeowners who have come to the point where they feel entitled to make large untaxed profits. But the gov is snipping a little off Housing Benefit, which is a good thing I suppose.




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