Lunchtime News Tuesday 1 April

A parliamentary report has concluded that houses will become unaffordable for millions of Britons as a higher influx of immigrants will mean higher house prices. According to the House of Lords economic affairs committee, if net immigration of 190,000 people per year continues over the next 20 years, it will cause the cost of an average property to rise to more than 10 times the average wage, whereas in 2000, the average cost was only four times the average wage. Ministers now forecast that by 2031 the population will be 71 million, up from 60.6 million in 2013, due to net immigration and this level of immigrations will exert a ‘significant impact on the housing market’.

Gordon Brown is facing his largest backbench revolt since the start of his premiership, over council tax repairs. Thirty Labour MPs have rebelled against the government, to call for more money for council housebuilding and repairs, during the first and second amendment readings to the Housing and Regeneration Bill. Labour MP, Michaal Meacher said that the need for social and affordable housing ‘far exceeds’ government’s plans, and that relying on the public sector to build the required homes was ‘unrealistic’.

In the meantime, the Tories are hoping to use today’s debate on the Bill to force a vote on abandoning home information packs (Hips). Arguing that more than half of the packs are over the target price of £350 and only one in eight is being produced within the predicted time of four to five working days, the conservative housing spokesperson, Grant Shapps, said that ‘everyone involved, be it experts or consumers, recognises that Hips have failed in every aspect’. His views are backed by the National Association of Estate Agents who found that most of its members believe that the packs had not speeded up the selling process or giving buyers any more useful information.

The construction sector has dramatically slowed down to its lowest level in more than a decade, which has put the government’s housing target under threat, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS said that 1 per cent more surveyors reported a rise in workloads than a fall during the first three months of 2015, compared to 16 per cent for the final three months of last year. The worst hit sector was the private housing market, which suffered negative workload growth for the first time since 1999.

And in research by auction house, Allsop, just four per cent of new build flats sold at auction over the past three years made a profit, with the value of the average flat plunging 26 per cent. Allsop also said that the outlook for new build flats was ‘grim’, and blamed the problem on massive oversupply, set to get worse as the number of distressed sales is rising ‘steeply’. A common problem was found to be buyers not being able to afford to pay their mortgage after failing to find tenants.

And finally, a home in the suburbs can add 12 years to your life. People living in middle class estates on the outskirts of a market town can typically expect to live until they are nearly 90 years old, whereas those living in council estates closer to the centre of the same country town are likely to die before they reach their late 70s.