housing-for-homeless

£150 Million to Build New Homes for the Homeless

Over £150 million is to be made available the government says across England to create permanent residences for rough sleepers. The government funding for these new homes will be available by the end of March 2021 and will help to make thousands of safe, long-term homes for rough sleepers. The new funding is part of a larger commitment over four years, which allocates £433 million to deliver 6,000 units of accommodation by the end of this Parliament. Altogether, government spending on homelessness this year reaches over £700 million.

 

The government investment of £150 million will see homes built in every region of England. This will give people sleeping rough, or at risk of sleeping rough, a secure, long-term accommodation to be housed in. More than 3,300 homes for vulnerable people have already been approved. The accommodations will be accessible by the end of March 2021, providing some of the most vulnerable in society with a safe and permanent place to help get back on their feet.

 

During the pandemic, the government launched a campaign to protect rough sleepers. In March, the ‘Everyone In’ campaign began housing the homeless in safe accommodation. By September, the scheme had supported more than 29,000 people: over 10,000 people were placed in emergency accommodation, and nearly 19,000 provided settled accommodation or 'move on' support.

 

The new funding is part of the biggest ever investment in homes for the homeless. Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping, Kelly Tolhurst, said:

The efforts to protect rough sleepers throughout the pandemic have been truly outstanding, and I want to wholeheartedly thank all the charities, councils, housing providers and support groups who have made this possible. We want to ensure the progress continues for years to come and the new, safe and supported homes are the cornerstone of our work to tackle rough sleeping and provide a solid foundation for those affected to rebuild their lives.

The focus of this funding has on providing long-term homes is vital in ensuring people who have experienced rough sleeping can get off the streets for good. Housing associations will be working alongside local authorities to help people into permanent housing.

 

Altogether, 276 schemes have been approved across England. 38 of these are based in London, providing 904 new homes for rough sleepers. Once they have been placed in their new home, residents will have support from specialist staff, including support for mental health and substance misuse needs. The ultimate aim is to begin rebuilding their lives, gain training and employments and remain off the streets.

 


Value Our Homes

The Effects Of Covid On How We Value Our Homes

Home is more than where the heart is: it's a school, office, gym, cinema and so much more. This year, our homes have had the challenge of adapting to encompass all parts of our lives.

With lockdown, everyone was forced to adapt to new ways of living to make our space work for all of our daily activities. Our space had to become versatile, acting as much more than a place to rest your head. For some, it became the office, studio or gym, and for children, it became a school. Whatever your requirements, space has become increasingly important for many. Analysts predict a sharp rise in people looking to renovate, redecorate or otherwise adapt their homes in the next year, whether that's to create a home office, build extra bedrooms or to optimise their living space.

 

home-more-redecoratingCatherine Smith, a Barista/Visual Artist co-housing in Hackney-Wick, London, has discussed how the pandemic affected her relationship with her home. "Before the coronavirus, I was hardly home. Once the lockdown began, I was definitely glad to have my housemates, and that social contact became much more important. I began to appreciate our small outdoor space on the balcony but having a garden would have been ideal. In fact, having more space, in general, became desirable and previously wouldn't have crossed my mind."

Many Britons like Catherine, living in bustling metropolitan locations, are now valuing their homes differently. The coronavirus has spurred a scramble to purchase homes outside of large urban cities in the UK. Most of the nation became accustomed to living and working from home, and began to prioritise how much space they have above the inner-city locations. More and more people are choosing to leave London after realising the potential of working from home or commuting once or twice a week. Londoners are now looking to quieter suburbs and smaller cities, widening the commuter belt. 

Since the onset of the coronavirus, Britons have been planning more home updates as we all spend more time at home. Catherine says: "Now that I was home all the time, I had the urge to work on the home and make it more comfortable to live in and do all of my daily activities. Beforehand, I didn't think about or care about decorating, but the lockdown gave us time to get around to doing things around the house that we would have never done. We made all sorts of improvements. Such as getting new furniture: some new chairs. We replaced appliances: a new fridge. And, made some other home improvements, like putting up some new shelves. I even got around to changing the lightbulbs."

Our relationships with our homes have evolved, and space is now expected to meet a greater range of needs. Numerous people took to redecorating, painting the walls, replacing furniture and smaller home improvements. Others are now looking at the possibility of adding extensions or loft conversions to their home to create offices or more comfortable living spaces. This has provided some support for businesses in a difficult time. During the lockdown, many along the supply chain benefitted from the demand for home improvements, including DIY and hardware stores, furniture makers and electrical appliance companies. The current trend for building extensions, conversions, garden rooms or conservatories also supports tradespeople like carpenters, bricklayers and decorators.

 

 


UK-LGBTQ+-housing

Newly Approved LGBTQ+ Extra-Care Housing scheme is a UK First

Accommodation in Manchester to support older LGBTQ+ people has been given the go-ahead and will begin construction imminently. 

Manchester city council put out a tender for a scheme to build an "LGBT-affirmative extra-care scheme" in Whalley Range in the south of Manchester. A steering group comprised of eighteen LGBTQ+ members will help to develop the scheme. The accommodation plans to provide just over half (51%) of the 150 places are to LGBTQ+ people aged over 55, with additional physical or mental support needs. The extra-care housing hopes to provide safe homes for older LGBTQ+ people, many of whom have been experiencing intensified loneliness since the pandemic.

A report and housing survey by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation illustrates the need for the LGBTQ+ extra-care housing scheme. 74% of people said that they want to have a home for their old age delivered by an LGBT-specific provider, but 43% had no idea where they could get such care and support in the future. Bill Moss, a retired prison officer, is one of the many hoping to find supported housing. As the only gay person in his sheltered flats in Salford, Bill feels isolated. He says: "I could do with having LGBT+ neighbours to have a chat with. It would allow me to be myself. There are things you don't have to explain and things you can talk about that are impossible with straight listeners." Moss, alongside other older members of Manchester's 7,000-plus LGBTQ+ community, could soon see this hope become a reality. The construction of the UK's first-of-its-kind extra-care LGBTQ+ housing scheme is imminent.  

The LGBTQ+ supported accommodation will be the first in the UK, but similar schemes already exist elsewhere including Germany, Sweden and Spain. The project will be inspired by those abroad, such as one in Los Angeles, by not being exclusive to LGBTQ+ residents. The LGBT Foundation makes it clear the other groups will be welcomed at the Manchester care home too. "We do not want to cut ourselves off as a community," a representative says.

The Foundation also promotes an understanding that any targeted care home has to act as part of a more comprehensive package of measures aimed at supporting Greater Manchester's growing elderly LGBTQ+ population. In this manner, the LGBT Foundation is now piloting the UK's first accreditation scheme for housing providers in Manchester. They will receive training, education and assistance to be able to demonstrate that they are informed and considerate of the needs of LGBTQ+ residents.


stamp-duty-renoavtion-jobs

Stamp Duty Holiday Protects Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs 

The introduction of the Stamp duty holiday helped to secure a 21.3% boost in house sales in September, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the housing sector. Figures from HM Treasury reveal the effect this has had on housing businesses and the wider supply chain. 

Residential property transactions rose 21.3% in September following a 15.6% rise in August. The surge in sales supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector. With more people deciding to buy a new home or move house, there are many more new homeowners ready to spend money on decorating and new furniture or appliances. 33% of buyers are planning to put savings from the tax break towards renovations or home improvements, supporting a wide range of businesses and jobs. The increased house sales will also be sure to support housebuilders and estate agents, among others across the housing supply chain and beyond.

As renovations ensue on thousands of newly purchased properties,  tradespeople, DIY stores, moving companies and cleaning businesses are all likely to benefit. The Bank of England estimates that those who move house are much more likely to purchase a variety of long-lasting items including furniture, carpets or electrical appliances. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "With a third of Brits planning to spend savings from the tax break on home improvements and renovations, the temporary stamp duty cut is boosting business and protecting jobs. This ranges from carpenters to cleaners, brickies and decorators, they can all benefit from each sale – helping us to further deliver on our Plan for Jobs."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the stamp duty holiday which began at the beginning of July and will end in March. The government imposed a temporary stamp duty holiday for residential properties up to £500,000 as part of their Plan for Jobs. It allows nine out of ten people purchasing a property to pay no SDLT at all, saving an average of £4,500. The government aimed for people to feel more confident in getting on the property ladder, moving house, selling, renovating and undergoing home improvements. 

Figures from the Building Societies Association show that there has been a considerable boost in the number of people who say that now is a good time to buy a property. 37% are confident in September, while only 25% believed so in June. It is clear that the confidence boost given to the property market through the Stamp Duty Holiday is impactful with a successful outcome of driving growth and supporting jobs.


green-mortgage

Eco-Friendly 'Green Mortgages' To Become The Norm

Recently, the UK population becoming increasingly eco-conscious has allowed 'green mortgages' to find their place in the mainstream market. They offer borrowers preferential rates directly linked to the energy performance of their properties. As a result, it gives home buyers and investors an extra impetus to look at newer, more eco-friendly properties to keep costs down.

What Are Green Mortgage Products?

The fact that many of us are aware of what these product options are is one of its most significant struggles. The sector offers better-rate mortgages for properties with eco-friendly energy performances. Therefore, in practice, if you are choosing to buy an energy-efficient property, your mortgage rates will be better! 

Research from Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA)found that 43% of borrowers hadn't heard of Green MOrtgages. More than a third of borrowers also wrongly believed green mortgages would cost more. The statistics show that around 77% of eco-aware lenders offer green products that are equal to or cheaper than a standard mortgage. Currently, only a relatively small number of lenders provide green mortgages, but the survey saw 29% planning to introduce such a product. A further 35% of agents also plan to advise buyers on green mortgages in future.

Why Are 'Green Mortgages' Becoming Popular?

As of yet, there are only a few lenders in the UK offering better-than-normal rates on eco-friendly properties. However, a growing trend for eco-friendly products across sectors has provided an added incentive for investors. When focussing on eco-trends, it is evident that this is a growing one, with more people becoming dedicated to doing their part against the devastating effects of climate change. This entices more buyers to steer towards eco-friendly products and properties. There are plenty of indicators that eco-friendly mortgage products will improve in number. Lenders and advisers alike are beginning to recognise the potential of green mortgages and advise buyers accordingly.  

The effects of the Covid-19 lockdown may have spurred this by providing a glimpse of a world with reduced carbon emissions. As a result, the growth of green finance is sure to continue to accelerate. The IMLA also reported that 74% of lenders think green mortgages will be more significant in the finance sector in future, and increased interest has already been noted since the pandemic outbreak.

The reasons for this growth in popularity are vast and varied, but most regard either the environmental or financial factors. Some buyers wish to improve their carbon footprint by living in a more environmentally friendly property. However, cost savings entice more than half (53%) of consumers. 

What Issues Does The Green Market Face?

Eco-friendly properties face the problem of cost when going green. 27% of property owners agree that affordability is an issue for them. Many investors do not find it worth the price of improving energy efficiency. To combat this, the Government has created The Green Homes Grant which could act as a great incentive. Green mortgages work as a great alternative option for customers, but there are considerable barriers which still stand in the way towards growing the green finance sector. The Government has committed to making Britain carbon-neutral by 2050 and, to do so, the existing housing stock will have to make changes to create more energy-efficient homes. 

 


government-supported-housing

New Funding To Improve Housing Support For Vulnerable People

The Government has set out clear expectations on supported housing standards. The new measures set out to ensure that vulnerable people have safe, good quality homes. £3 million has been pledged towards testing approaches for high-quality support and accommodation. 

Today, new funding for supported housing pilots in priority areas has been announced. The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst, imposes the plans to improve standards and quality in supported housing.

The Government published a new National Statement of Expectations (NSE), which defines the expectations of guidelines, high-quality and good value for money in supported housing and explains how this can be realized by bringing best practice across the sector together. 

What Is The National Statement Of Expectations?

The National Statement of Expectations (NSE) is created in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, Communities, Local Governments and the Department for Work and Pensions. Local councils and the supported housing sector also provide input.

The Government first announced its intention to improve oversight of supported housing in 2018, hoping to ensure good quality and value for money. The NSE acts as a first step towards establishing its endeavours for high standards, quality and value in supported housing.

The NSE defines only the accommodation component of supported housing but encourages organisations to pursue high standards in accompanying support services for the residents.

What Will New Funding And Guidance Do?

£3 million will be put towards funding pilots in 5 key areas – Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool, Bristol and Blackburn. This is aimed at improving quality, enforcement, oversight and value for money in supported housing, with a focus on short-term supported housing. The pilots will be carried out until the end of March 2021.

Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, says: "Providing good quality homes to people who have been homeless, or who are unable to live independently, is fundamental to our support for vulnerable people... My statement today sends a strong message to providers that don't meet our benchmark that they need to shape up. The pilots we are funding will explore different approaches to supported housing, to further raise the quality of service across the country."

The housing pilots will collaborate with local partners to carefully test different approaches for the benefit of the sector to uncover how higher standards could be enforced all round. The pilots are intended to significantly improve the quality of non-commissioned provision in the high-priority areas.

Baroness Stedman-Scott, Lords Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions, explains how vital this funding will be. "Supported housing has the power to change the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities for the better. Backed by £3 million, we will work with experienced partners to make sure that, across the board, this vital support is up to scratch."

What Is Supported Housing?

Supported housing provides acommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in the UK. In supported housing, care, support and supervision are available as necessary to help people live as independently as possible within the community. The majority is catering towards older residents but also has an essential role in supporting people from other vulnerable groups.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has worked closely with the housing sector and local councils to provide safe accommodation and support for vulnerable people. In September, the Government had supported over 29,000 people, providing 10,000 emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 other support.

Who Does Supported Housing Help?

According to the Government's press release, those who might live in supported housing include:

  • older people with support needs
  • people with a learning disability
  • people with a physical disability
  • autistic people with a support need
  • individuals and families at risk of or who have experienced homelessness
  • people recovering from drug or alcohol dependence
  • people with experience of the criminal justice system
  • young people with a support need (such as care leavers or teenage parents)
  • people with mental ill-health
  • people fleeing domestic abuse and their children

first-time-buyers

Will First-Time Buyers Set To Receive Low-Deposit Mortgage Deals?

Prime Minister Boris Johson has pledged 95% mortgages for two million first-time buyers. The Government unveiled plans for 'generation buy' at a virtual Conservative Party conference. The Prime Minister said: "We need now to take forward one of the key proposals of our manifesto of 2019: giving young, first-time buyers the chance to take out a long-term, fixed-rate mortgage of up to 95 percent of the value of the home — vastly reducing the size of the deposit."

 

How Will It Work?

The Government has revealed intentions to make 95% mortgages more extensively available for first-time buyers, but it is still uncertain how the proposals would work. The Prime Minister discussed the issue facing two million prospective first-time buyers who could afford to pay mortgage repayments but are having difficulty getting approved for a home loan. He believes the Government has a role to play in unlocking low-deposit loans to generate 'the biggest expansion of homeownership since the 1980s'.

The proposal is also reminiscent of government-backed low-deposit mortgage schemes introduced after the 2008 crash. A similar program was launched as part of the Help to Buy plan during the 2008 recession because of banks withdrawing their high loan-to-value mortgage products. Previously, there were 100 percent loans on offer for buyers.

The Government has not released any details on how the scheme might work. According to a report by The Telegraph, one prospective design is for banks to get rid of the rigorous stress tests that were introduced after the financial crash. Rather than the stress tests, the Government could impose a guarantee for these higher loans. This would remove the risk placed on lenders, allowing them to offer low-deposit loans without worry. The tests are designed to assess whether a buyer will keep up mortgage repayments should interest rates rise from their current rate of 0.1%.

 

How Could The Scheme Help First-Time Buyers?

Boris Johnson said that the scheme will help up to two million people who can afford mortgage repayments but can't currently find home loans. While high loan-to-value mortgages were widely offered at the begging of this year, the COVID lockdown caused many lenders to withdraw their products. Banks and building societies were inundated with a backlog of inquiries when the housing market reopened, and some became overwhelmed with the demand. The decision to remove the low-deposit mortgages may have been due to economic uncertainty - as the economy walks a tightrope many lenders wish to distance themselves from providing riskier loans. 

In theory, first-time buyers will be able to buy with a five percent deposit once again under the new proposals. The result hopes to "turn Generation Rent into Generation Buy." However, buyers should still be aware of the possible risks that remain. When you buy a property with a low deposit, there is often a greater risk of negative equity if the property market doesn't rise but instead declines. 


10-million-plus-properties

Increase In Money Spent On London's £10m-Plus Properties

This year, the amount of money has been spent on London's "super-prime" housing market has increased. Analysis sees a rise in sales of £10 million-plus homes in 2020, in comparison with the same period in 2019. This is in spite of the coronavirus lockdown which paused the market. A study found that £1.13 billion was spent on the capital's super-prime property between January and August 2020. In comparison, only £977.5 million was recorded in the same span of time last year. 30 transactions above £10 million were made in the first three months of 2020 compared with 18 in 2019. 

 

How Has COVID19 Affected The Sale Of Super-Prime Properties?

Although coronavirus brought about tight restrictions on the housing market in the second quarter of the year, there were still 56 super prime sales throughout the first eight months of the year. This was only one less deal, with 57 recorded deals during the same period in 2019. Another effect of the coronavirus has been the surge of British buyers involved in super-prime property exchanges. The restrictions on overseas travel have caused the highest proportion of exchanges to involve British buyers seen over the past decade, according to numbers from the first eight months of the year. This sits at around 40%.  

 

Where Are 10m+ Properties Being Sold?

The largest proportion of London's super-prime deals were found in Kensington, based on figures of this year up until August.  The fashionable residential district in central London accounted for 14.3 percent of all deals over £10 million during the period. In 2019, Mayfair had the highest number of super-prime transactions during this time. Marylebone has shot to second place as the most expensive area of London (based on pound-per-square-foot). These properties are situated at the very top of the market, with at least 17 homes valued at more than £30 million. Other than Kensington, luxury homes are being exchanged in wealthy districts in SW1 and SW3 including Mayfair, Belgravia, Sloane Square. Demand for super-prime properties has also increased in Notting Hill, St Johns Wood, Hampstead, and Belgravia.

 

This home located on Lichester Place in Kensington is on the market for more than £30 million

Why Has Money Spent On Super-Prime Properties Increased?

Some of the key motivators for top tier property purchase has not changed. These include capital preservation, the UK education system, and cheap debt. Additionally, the current situation arising from the coronavirus pandemic sees cheap debt readily available with banks being lenient on calling in loans. While there has been a surge in buyers moving away from the UK's big cities, there is a definite desire more the uber-wealthy to keep old of a residence in the capital to retain London investment long-term. Despite the short-term pause on the housing market, prices do not feel as though they will fall at any time soon. The pandemic has not provided any large discounts with vendors remaining resilient. 


planning-permission

Brits Waste £64 Million On Denied Planning Permission

Planning permission is a requirement in the UK if you are looking to renovate your home. Since the onset of the coronavirus, Britons have been planning more home updates as we all spend more time at home. Many are looking at the possibility of adding extensions or loft conversions to their home to create offices or more comfortable living spaces. To do this, you have to obtain planning permission - an approval on your renovations. 

Why Are People Losing Money?

The cost of planning permission can vary depending on how big the project is and different types of permissions have different fees.  There can also be unexpected additional costs such as extra surveys.  If you end up being denied, the money is wasted. In just the last three years, Brits have wasted £64 million on unsuccessful planning permission applications.

Moreover, a frequent mistake of those applying for planning permission is that they underestimate how long it will take. If your plans are not approved as quickly as you imagined home improvement projects can be delayed by weeks or even months. This can affect costs as you may lose deposits you already held with contractors.  If you are denied permission you will also incur extra costs when having to change plans, particularly if the work has already started.

 

Will Your Planning Permission Be Denied?

Whether you are likely to be successful when applying for planning permission depends on where you are based. Research by Roofing Megastore has revealed where applicants are more likely to be denied.

Using planning application data from the Ministry of Housing, the research uncovers the most and least successful areas to be granted planning permission in England. The success standard for a local area fluctuates from as low as 65 per cent, up to 99 per cent. However, for the country as a whole, the rate of success is 91 per cent.

 

Where Is It Hardest To Get Planning Permission in England?

Londoner's seem to have the most challenging time acquiring planning permission, with property owners in London spending a massive £21 million over the past three years on unsuccessful applications. The number one most challenging area in England is Enfield, London, with a success rate of 65.13 per cent. In fact, eight of the top ten most challenging locations are in London: Hillingdon at 66.01 per cent, Harrow at 69.56 per cent, Hounslow at 71.24 per cent, Greenwich at 71.47 per cent, Lambeth at 73.55 per cent, Newham at 76.02 per cent and Bromley at 76.82 per cent. Rochdale in Greater Manchester at 74.03 per cent and Southend-on-Sea in Essex at 74.46 per cent also rank in the top ten.

Where Is It Easiest to Get Planning Permission?

Based on the percentage of applications granted, Carlisle, Cumbria is the most convenient place to granted planning permission at 98.90 per cent success. Copeland, Cumbria follows closely with 98.72 per cent acceptance. The top ten most accessible locations are all boasting a percentage of 97 upwards, giving applicants peace of mind that they won't be wasting their time and money. These include Richmondshire, North Yorkshire (98.17%), Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire (97.89%), County Durham, North East (97.82%), Fareham, Hampshire (97.79%), Cornwall, South West (97.39%), Eden, Cumbria (97.38%), North West Leicestershire, Midlands (97.36%), Rushmoor, Hampshire (97.36) and Darlington, County Durham (97.29%).


two-bed-london-flat-to-be-sold-for-just-£1

Two-bed London Flat To Be Sold For Just £1

While a property is usually a considerable investment, this luxury 2-bed apartment in London could be purchased for as little as £1. With the market back on track since its pause over lockdown, you can now enter to win a property as a raffle prize. Demand for property has spurred, and in order to draw attention to their listings, agents create a lottery in which the property is the grand prize - to be won for a tiny fraction of its value.

 

The property is available to win in a raffle from Win My Dream Home (Image: Win My Dream Home)

Why Is It Being Sold So Cheap?

Properties that are sold as part of a raffle offer the chance for one lucky individual to grab a bargain price. The method has become popular recently as a way of drawing attention to the property and creating interest. It is also well-liked among sellers because the process can be more straightforward, with everything taking place online. This reduces a lot of time spent contacting potential buyers, giving house viewing, and other various admin and back and forth. The raffle creates a large sum over time through the sale of entry tickets. So long as it gains enough attention, it is unlikely to cause a loss for the seller.

 

How Does It Work?

Win My Dream Home is one such company allowing buyers to try their luck. They have listed a stunning luxury apartment, located in Kentish Town in North West London. The property is 525 square foot flat, on the ground floor and has two bedrooms, a 17-foot reception, and a private terrace. It has been valued at £500,000, but one lucky entrant of the prize draw will win it for as little as £1.

The apartment is based in Kentish Town, North London (Image: Win My Dream Home)

 

Tickets are sold for £5 from the Win My Dream Home website until 31st December 2020. Potential buyers who purchase a ticket are not guaranteed the apartment but can enter as many times as they wish. Bulk buying is also possible, making the entry price cheaper - 100 entries cost £100, just £1 per ticket.

 

Raffle tickets are sold for as little as £1 (Image: Win My Dream Home)

 

There will also be two runners up in the raffle. The first runner-up will receive ten thousand pounds, and the second will get five thousand pounds. Win My Dream Home will donate ten percent of all the money raised through ticket sales to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.