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Andy Winter
Andy Winter’s BHT Blog
15 September 2014
Tackling homelessness, creating opportunities, promoting change

Today (Monday 15th September) the National Housing Federation (NHF) launched its annual Home Truths report on the state of housing in the UK. The 2014 report is called Broken Market, Broken Dreams.

To build the evidence for the its general election campaign, the NHF has written its biggest, most thorough report yet, one that explains how the current housing crisis came about and which underpins the NHF’s appeal to the parties as we approach the 2015 general election.

The report looks at the housing crisis we’re currently facing which has been more than a generation in the making. It found that:

  • The average first-time buyer today needs a £30,000 deposit, almost ten times the deposit required in the early 1980s;
  • First-time buyers have an average income of £36,500, compared to the average salary for first-time buyers in the 1980s of £20,000 (adjusted to account for inflation);
  • A first-time buyer has to borrow 3.4 times their annual income on average, compared to first time buyers in 1979 who needed to borrow just 1.7 times their income;
  • Two thirds of first-time buyers receive financial help from parents – a figure that has doubled in five years.

The report also contains figures from a YouGov poll commissioned by the NHF which reveals seven out of 10 people (73%) think the Government should play a role in improving accessibility to housing, but worryingly 77% think that none of the mainstream political parties will effectively deal with the issue of housing.

The report focuses on housing inequality and on the disadvantages of being a private renter: “Increasing demand, undersupply of housing and shifts in tenure have affected different people in different ways, particularly in terms of housing costs. On average, home owners with a mortgage spend 20% of their income on paying that mortgage. However, private renters spend 40% on rent while social renters spend 30%. As younger people are significantly more likely to rent than own a home, a larger proportion of their income is spent on keeping a roof over their head, making saving for a deposit harder.”

The NHF highlights the cost of failed housing policy on the public purse: “The impact of high prices, stagnant wages, decreasing affordability and the subsequent shift of more people to private renting is increasing the housing benefit bill. The total housing benefit bill in England – accounting for inflation – has risen by almost 150% from £8.7bn to £21.5bn in 21 years.”

In my opinion, housing benefit is increasingly becoming a subsidy for employers who pay low wages, with 92% of new claims last year coming from people in low paid employment. The report warns that in five years time, one third of all housing benefit payments will be for people in employment.

You can find a copy of the full report here

A copy of the the executive summary can be found here

The NHF calls on the next government to act: “We want all political parties to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation. We want the next government to publish a long-term plan within a year of taking office that sets out how they will achieve this.”

(The text for the above post has been largely extracted from information provided by the NHF to its members).

I have worked for Brighton Housing Trust since 1985, initially as a residential support worker before becoming manager of our residential alcohol, drug and mental health services. Between 1996 and 2000 I undertook original research into drug related deaths in Brighton and Hove.

I was a local councillor in the late 1980’s and chaired Brighton Council’s Licensing Committee. In partnership with Sussex Police, we oversaw a reduction in alcohol-related violence in clubs and pubs. I remain concerned about the impact alcohol misuse and drug addiction has on the lives of individuals and their families, as well as on the economy of the City.

Since 2003 I have been the chief executive of BHT. In the years to come I want to see the quality and impact of what we do reach new levels.

Away from work I have a passion for cricket and have been a member of the Sussex County Cricket Club for many years. In addition to blogging, I tweet at @AndyWinterBHT and rather surprisingly, I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are my own and should not be assumed to be the formal policy of BHT. For clarification, please email me.