Lunchtime news Friday 18 July 2023

Mortgage lending in the UK fell by 32 per cent in the year to June according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). June is traditionally a busy time in the housing market, but there was a 3 per cent drop in lending for the month. CML is calling on the government to step up its support, saying that the help given to housing associations to purchase new-build properties were welcome, but is likely to have only a ‘marginal impact on the housing market’. Meanwhile the Chancellor‘s tax receipts are diminishing daily as the economic downturn cuts stamp duty payments. The Treasury is fearful that it could lose as much as £5 billion, more than a third of revenue that had been expected.

Three-quarters of first-time buyers have decided to put their house buying plans on hold due to the current market conditions. A third of those questioned said they had attempted to buy a home during the past six months, but had been refused a mortgage. Instead, around 44 per cent of first-time buyers are considering buying abroad while continuing to rent in the UK.

As a result, private rental demand is up 41 per cent in a year nationwide, and this has increased rents in places such as London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds. However, rents have fallen in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham due to the oversupply of new-build flats. But 71 per cent of tenants questioned in another study said that they did not intend to take out a mortgage and would continue to rent, while 60 per cent of mortgage holders said they would sell their homes and begin renting if mortgage repayments become too high.

Ministers are looking at ‘real-life’ measures to improve people’s lives and allow them to take responsibility for their own community regeneration. Hazel Blears announced yesterday that funding will be targeted at tackling economic challenges and antisocial behaviour, and increasing investment in housing and environmental improvements. Ms Blears also announced that a housing reform Green Paper due out later this year will set out proposals to help and encourage people living in social housing towards greater economic independence and will allow housing associations and local authorities to tackle worklessness.

Housing shortages and affordability issues are leading to higher house building targets in the South East, said the government. It is revising its figures with a ‘modest’ recommendation of a 4 per cent increase in housing provision for the region, bringing the total of house to be built to 33,125 a year. The government is arguing that there were more than 200,000 households on council waiting lists and more than 7,500 homeless households in temporary accommodation. Plans for more than 7,000 new homes to be built on a flood plain have been scrapped after 1,500 people signed a petition against the plans.

The Ministry of Defence released a paper yesterday with a series of improvements for armed service personnel. It recommends preferential treatment for troops and veterans in social housing and promises a £20 million scheme to extend affordable home ownership. The MoD has also promised to publish a 10-year strategy for the management of the land and housing it owns, leases and maintains.

And finally, the Royal Institute of British Architects has released the shortlist for ‘the building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year’ in its Stirling prize. Three of the six buildings shortlisted are public buildings – a school, concert hall and courthouse – and a fourth is a housing project with one-third affordable homes. The final two are buildings abroad.