Last thing I heard from Ben he was cycling around picturesque French villages with his missus, so this leaves me to bring you up to date with the news.
And what a week for news it has been! Both political parties in meltdown (although the Conservaties appear to be getting a grip), and the Chilcot report prompting more angst about the ill fated Iraq war.
Personally I hope the report makes it considerably more difficult for politicians to enter into ANY war unless it is clearly in the national interest. Leaving aside the terrible loss of life, wars are expensive and so inevitably impact negativly on public spending.
So far as property issues are concerned, it looks as if commercial property may be in difficulties as the Guardian tells me that property funds are in turmoil. Maybe they should convert offices to homes. Which leads me on to
Housebuilding and homes
As regards housebuilding, the outlook, at least the immediate outlook looks bad. This report shows that private housebuilding has slowed and that industry is not going to build more houses than it can sell. Presumably this means sell at a profit as no doubt if prices were lower they would be able to sell them quite easily.
Interestingly the report also states that the House of Lords economic committee is due to publish a report on the housing sector which will call on local authorities and social housing to build more properties as the private sector will not be able to build sufficient – even if building was at a high.
The public sector has to be a steady supplier of homes, much as it was during the 1950s under the Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan governments.
To most people in the housing industry, this was obvious for years. Labour, under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, attempted to bully private housebuilders into including social housing in their estates. But it was always an uphill task. Tony Pidgley, the chairman of Berkeley Group, who pocketed a 42% rise in his take home pay to £23m last year, could not close the supply gap even if he wanted to.
The article goes on to say:
(Lord) Turnbull makes no judgment on private developers, other than to highlight the empirically irrefutable point that they never build more than 120,000-130,000 homes a year in a country that, even if net migration were brought down to the tens of thousands, would require at least 200,000 new homes a year.
There certainly needs to be something doing as it looks as if even though the Brexit vote was won – largely on the basis that immigration would go down- we are still going to see a substantial net migration. And housing, particulary in areas such as London, is not at present sufficient for the people already here.
Also, this report from May, tells us that even if we do have private sector building, not much of it is going to be affordable. More golden bricks for investors rather than homes for families. How mad is that?
Right to buy
Making the announcement, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones told the Welsh Assembly that the abolition “will ensure social housing is available to those who need it and who are unable to access accommodation or the private rented sector”.
Would that England would do the same.
Incidentally if you want to know about the sales in the first quarter of this year, there is a report here which sets out the statistics. It looks as if sales are down slightly and that over a quarter of them were in London. Whereas, as we all know, London is probably the area more than any other which desparately needs social housing.
Land Registry sell off
I don’t know about you, but the threat to sell off the Land Registry seems to be totally bonkers and certainly a step too far in the great British Sell off which our respected governments have been conducting over the past 40 years or so.
There does seem to be some hope here though that it may not go ahead – this quote is taken from Property Industry Eye
Yesterday, campaign group 38 Degrees scented victory. It said that if the Government formed by the next Prime Minister did go ahead with the sell-off, it would face “hundreds of thousands” of protests.
The group organised a petition against the sell-off, raising 310,000 signatures, and hired an investigator to “dish the dirt” on companies in the running to buy the Land Registry.
Before last week’s debate on the Land Registry, its members emailed MPs urging them to attend.
Business minister George Freeman conceded that the Government had heard “loud and clear” the views expressed by all parties, including an observation by a Labour MP who argued: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Freeman said he had “no idea what those currently looking to form the new administration will want to do when they are in office but anyone reading this debate today will have seen loud and clear the views of those who have spoken on all sides of the house”.
Let’s hope this proposal goes no further.
What made me smile this week
Orkney. We have been on holiday in Orkney this week, probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. However not only is it beautiful – it is over 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy! (Although not 100% of the time -see this interesting article).
Everywhere you look there are wind turbines spinning away. And they don’t spoil the scenery at all – not in my opinion anyway. It appears the Orcadians think the same:
The desire for renewables was made clear after a wind turbine in an industrial estate on the edge of Kirkwall provoked an online petition by opponents. This prompted a rival petition from supporters, which got more signatures than the naysayers …
It’s a wonderful place – scenery, food and people are all fantastic and we have been very happy here.
We will be back one day …