Lunchtime news Wednesday 2 July 2023

The National Housing and Planning Unit has waded into the credit crisis saying that even if house prices fall by 15 per cent in the next two years, first-time buyers will not find it easier to get on the property ladder. ‘With affordability stretched many potential buyers will be locked out of owner-occupation,’ said the chairman of the unit. A survey conducted by NHPAU also found that 65 per cent of people in England believe that the government’s aim to build 240,000 new homes a year is ‘about right’ or ‘not enough’.

Yesterday chancellor Alistair Darling announced an increase of £15,000 to £50,000 to guarantee customers’ deposits should another bank go under in the wake of the failure by Northern Rock. But he stopped short of calling on the banks to fund the Financial Services Compensation Scheme after they complained that the move would divert funds needed to deal with the impact of the credit crunch. Instead taxpayers money will be used.

In the South West, estate agents have rejected calls to stop marketing properties to holiday home buyers. The South West Regional Assembly, which controls planning, says the practice of selling family properties as holiday homes was out of hand and prices across the area were ‘at least heavily influenced, if not dictated, by second home purchasers’.

Meanwhile Britain’s biggest builder Taylor Wimpey failed to raise around £500 million in an emergency cash injection and saw its shares halve this morning. The company has been forced to announce plans to close a third of its offices and cut around 900 jobs. The company said it had underestimated the scale of the downturn facing the industry.

Lord Rogers has questioned the ‘authority and objectivity’ of English Heritage after it rejected calls seeking heritage status for Robin Hood Gardens, an estate in east London. A number of eminent architects had claimed the estate, designed by Peter and Alison Smithson, was a modern masterpiece and compared its layout to Bath’s Georgian crescents. However English Heritage disagreed and said the estate was ‘not fit for purpose’ and it now faces demolition.

And finally, the cost of happiness for single people is £13,400 a year and for a couple with two children it is £26,800 a year before tax, according to a survey by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That is the amount they would need to earn to pay for essentials such as food and heating, and the odd treat of a cinema ticket or meal out, on top of rent for a modest council house. The survey found that, once the rent or mortgage is paid, singles would need £158 a week, and couples with two children £370 a week for a standard of living adequate enough to make them happy. The figures show that most people below the official poverty line of 60 per cent of median income do not receive enough to achieve an ‘adequate’ standard of living.