Lunchtime news Feb 9

  • Pressure is growing in the European Parliament to allow billions of pounds to spent on housing, reports Inside Housing.
  • The magazine also reports on concern that housing association mergers are leading to a free-for-all in the market to build new homes.
  • London mayor Ken Livingstone is looking at ways to stop new homes being snapped up by buy-to-let investors, who are buying 45% of new private homes in the capital, says Inside Housing.

  • The Department of Work and Pensions has missed a key target on housing benefit. New figures [downloads PDF] show over-payments increased by 13% between 2002/03 and 2005/06. Its public service agreement target was a 20% reduction over the same period. Some £770 million was overpaid last year – 5.5% of total housing benefit expenditure.
  • The Commission for Racial equality says Welsh councils are discriminating against ethnic minorities in the way they allocate housing, according to a report in the Western Mail.
  • The housing market is cooling down in response to increases in interest rates, says the Financial Times. Its index shows the annual rate of increase is now 6.9%.
  • The Guardian features the plight of traditional market towns under pressure from demand for more housing.
  • The United States is seeing its biggest fall in house prices in more than 40 years, according to the Telegraph