Thursday 27 February 2014

Back to the future

From the BBC:

The weekly earnings of full-time workers in the UK fell, in real terms, each year between 2008 and 2013, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says in cash terms earnings grew, by only 2% a year, from 2009 to 2013. But after taking inflation into account the purchasing power of those earnings suffered an overall fall of 8%.

This means that the real value of the UK's average weekly earnings are now back to the level of 2002.

From the BBC:

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which publishes the [English Housing Survey] each year, said:

"The proportion of all households in owner occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2003 when it reached a peak of 71%. Since then, there has been a gradual decline in owner occupation to the current 65%."

It pointed out that private renting in England had been steady at about 10% of all households during the 1980s and 1990s, but had since grown sharply, nearly doubling in size.

From the BBC:

The number of tenants in England and Wales forcibly evicted from their homes last year after court action reached a record high.

Some 37,739 private and public sector tenants had their homes repossessed by court bailiffs in 2013, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice. That is the highest number since records began in the year 2000.


However, the number of homes being repossessed by mortgage lenders at the end of 2013 was the lowest in a decade.

In cases that involved court action, 12,147 people had to hand back the keys to their home between October and December last year. The Ministry of Justice put that down to low interest rates and a "proactive approach from lenders in managing consumers in financial difficulty".

Wednesday 26 February 2014

"Government plans to make evicting tenants easier"

Over at Kathy Newman's Channel 4 blog.

Making squatting a criminal offence was the start, it appears that the scales between protecting homeowners from the scourge of repossession on the one hand, and evicting tenants on the other, are being tilted in opposite directions.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From The Evening Standard (19 Feb 2014, page 47):

We were delighted by Danny Dorling's endorsement of a land value tax.

The Holy Grail of high wages/low house prices can be achieved by collecting taxes from the rental value of land instead of from earnings and output. Our calculations show that replacing council tax, VAT and National Insurance with a fiscally neutral Land Value Tax would leave most young couples £10,000 a year better off.

As well as reversing the rising tide of wealth inequality, such a measure would dampen the boom-bust cycle and lead to more efficient use of existing buildings.

Land Value Tax was supported by figures as diverse as Marx, Churchill and Milton Friedman. Now that corporations can shift profits between jurisdictions at the touch of a button it has more relevance than ever as land cannot be hidden abroad.

Mark Wadsworth, Young People's Party.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Friday meet-up, tomorrow 14 February

Same time, same place.

i.e. Friday evening (10 January) from about 5.20 pm onwards at The Brewmaster pub near Leicester Square Tube station.

Robin Smith hopes to bring along Lloyd Churches from Prosper Australia.

I know it's Valentine's Day, hence and why I shall have to sneak of before 7 pm.

Monday 3 February 2014

Fun Online Poll: The People Have Spoken

I'm shutting the Poll after a week, results as follows:

For a given size of an economy, which would you choose:

High house prices, low wages - 4% (24 votes)
High wages, low house prices - 96% (553 votes)

So now we know.

It's just a question of explaining that this is easily achieved by turning back the clock fifty years or so to the last time we had low stable house prices, and before the share of wages after tax and rent/mortgage payments started their long and slow decline.

It's not difficult - the UK government used to have a four-pronged attack:
- plenty of new construction, for private sale as well as relatively easily available council housing,
- rent controls and high taxes on private landlords,
- sensible regulation of building societies, strict lending multiples, and
- last but not least, instead of VAT on the productive economy there was Domestic Rates and Schedule A taxation on housing.