Thursday, 11 February 2016

Oddly Edited Reader's Letter Of The Day.

From The Evening Standard:

Zac Goldsmith grabbed headlines with his claim that a fare freeze by Transport for London would mean a 59 per cent increase in council tax [February 9].

However, anyone who reads the article will see that the true increase would be 17 per cent. Even his claim that the fare freeze would add £175 to an average council tax bill is deeply flawed.

[Missing third para, explaining that the required annual council tax increase would be more like £33.]

This seems like a sensible option to me, especially if the increase were targeted at the super-expensive homes in Zones 1 and 2 who pay the least toward TfL while getting the best value from it.

Mark Wadsworth, Young People's Party.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

YPP meet-up tomorrow, Friday 8 January

We took December off because it was cold, Xmas stuff etc, tomorrow we are back on at...

The Brewmaster, Leicester Square Tube, exit 1 and turn left and left again into the alleyway (St Martin's Court).

We put a yellow YPP leaflet on the table so that you can recognise us.

Topics: Osborne very gently clamping down on small BTL landlords while merrily subsidising the big ones.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Good work by Shelter on land banking.

Somebody at Shelter has trawled through the accounts of all the large land bankers home builders and confirmed what we had already guesstimated.

From The Guardian:

The government wants to build 1m new homes in England by 2020. This would mean building 200,000 a year, but the existing construction levels of just over 150,000 are well behind that.

Despite the fact the nine listed housebuilders hold more than 600,000 housing plots, they sold just 66,881 homes between them in their last financial year.

The annual figure of 150,000 is not unduly low by historic standards, the average since 1945 is about 160,000 private sector completions. The years when annual completions were nearer 300,000 was because of council house building.

What is interesting is comparing what their PR people say to the media with what they say to shareholders in their annual reports:

Taylor Wimpey also pinpointed the “slow and complex” planning process and said all sides of the housing debate needed to be patient if more homes were to be built. A spokesman said… "Whilst it is improving, the planning process is slow and complex and a number of conditions need to be fulfilled before development can commence on our sites. A shortage of resources in planning departments also often means that delays occur in this process."

Ho hum. From their 2015 interim report (download from here):

Land bank - movements in period

Brought forward +75,136
Plots acquired +3,620
Strategic land conversions* +5,666
Completions -5,898
Land sales -297
Scope changes -655
Balance at end of period =77,372

Planning status
Detailed planning +45,787
Outline planning +22,508
Resolution to grant +9,077
Total =77,372

So in their accounts they boast that they have enough land with planning for about six years' construction.

* The land bank figures only include land with planning. It does not include 'strategic land' which they bought on spec; in this period they managed to obtain planning for 5,666 plots of 'strategic land' which is transferred to their official land bank.

To cut a long story short, TW have no interest in getting planning any faster, their profit maximising output level is whatever it is and there is no incentive to build more; in turn, there is no point in getting planning permission for land which they have no intention of using for the next seven or eight years.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Fun Online Poll: which is the best measure of poverty or inequality?

Further to point 6 of Ben Jamin's recent post

Which is the most relevant measure of poverty or inequality:

Total income
Total assets
Total assets excl. value of main residence*
Total income minus tax and housing costs

There's no "other" because we'd just end up with endless permutations.

Vote here.

* The third option might sound a bit weird, but is the basis for many means tested benefits. For example, if you have a low income but £16,000 or more cash/investments, you get no Housing or Council Tax benefit or Pensions Credit (or their localised replacements and I know that the rules are slightly different for each and there's a Pension Credit Savings Credit to mitigate this). But if you have a low income, no savings and live in a £1 million home, you can still claim Council Tax Benefit and Pensions Credit.

To sum up: a tenant with a low income and £16,000 savings can fuck off, he is not considered to be poor. A home-owner with a low income and no savings and a £1 million house is a charity case and gets all the goodies.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

YPP meet-up, tomorrow Thursday 26 November

This week, it's a different day, different venue:

The Golden Fleece
8 Queen Street

Joe Momberg hosting from 19.15

(Venue changed from The Vintry, Abchurch Yard etc.)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

YPP meet-up, tomorrow Friday 20 November.

The Brewmaster (which is nowhere near as pretentious as their website), Leicester Square Tube, Exit 1 and turn left and left again into the alleyway (St Martin's Court) from about 5.20 pm. 

We put a yellow YPP leaflet on the table so you can recognise us. Contact me at or on 07954 59 07 44 if you need more info.

Topics: Corbyn has drifted so far off piste, maybe our gap in the market has opened up again.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Another Home-Owner-Ist milestone is within grasping distance...

From City AM:

In ten years time only 26 per cent of so-called “generation rent”, those aged between 20 and 39, will own their own homes according to a study by accountants PwC.

In 2013, 38 per cent of those in that age group had bought a house. The amount of 20-39 year olds renting privately by 2025 is expected to have ballooned to 59 per cent, up from 45 per cent in 2013.

Richard Snook, an economist at PwC said:

“The continual advance of house prices, which have for outstripped growth in earnings, is fundamentally changing the way that people live. Changing the outlook for generation rent will require us to build more houses than need just to match population growth in order to make up the past shortfall between housing supply and growth in demand.”

Not much of an economist, is he?

Firstly, there's not much hard evidence to show that building more homes gets prices down (unless you build them in entirely the wrong place, in which case they are not homes, they are just piles of bricks), only blind faith.

Secondly, who does he think will be snapping up those new builds?

Answer: exactly the same 'equity rich' Baby Boomers who are snapping up a disproportionate number of any other homes which are up for sale. At present, the ratio is one BTL purchase to two first time buyers, but that ratio is worsening (or improving, from the Homeys' point of view).

And whatever happens, all those new builds are a net transfer of wealth to large landowners.