Weekly Summary: 8th June 2020

DATA: Nationwide reported UK house prices fell 1.7% in May

This reduced the annual rate of change to 1.8% (3.7% previously) and the trend in prices since the beginning of the year suggests year end growth of 1.6% but is likely to fall further given the ongoing recession.

DATA: Halifax reported UK house prices fell 0.2% in May

This was the third consecutive monthly price fall, with a total fall of 1.1% since February. We still have concerns about the new methodology and current market conditions suggest it and other indices will be volatile and subject to revision (where possible).

DATA: Bank of England reported mortgage approvals for house purchase down 72% in April

The mortgage approval figures for April reflect the full impact of the market lockdown, with a massive collapse in home buying. Mortgage approvals for remortgaging were 32% below the level in April last year.

POLICY: MHCLG announce “Ban on evictions extended by 2 months to further protect renters”

This is welcome news but should’ve been announced much earlier to avoid the stress and upset that many renters will have experienced given the uncertainty. There are still significant causes for concern when looking at the immediate future of the private rented sector (for both tenants and landlords).

NEWS: Cass Business School report suggests “Incentives to downsize would ease the housing crisis”

While increasing the number of downsizers would help some people buy a family home, the reality is that most older people only own an average priced home. Downsizing from a house worth £250,000-£300,000 into a new build apartment while also releasing some equity just doesn’t add up irrespective of any stamp duty cuts. The reality is most people are going to age in their existing homes and we need to ensure they are suitable.

NEWS: JRF reports “A third of furloughed private renters worried about paying their rent when lockdown ends”

They are calling for an increase in Local Housing Allowance to cover median rents and the removal of the national cap.

Black Lives Matter: The Case For Improved Data

The inequalities in housing are so great that it is all too easy to think you are doing enough by highlighting the broad issues and campaigning for their improvement. However, it is clear that this is not enough and we should all be much more aware of how these inequalities fall disproportionally on particular groups of people.

The scale of the issue is highlighted by some of the brief statistics available on the housing situation of black people in the UK. Analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey (Q1 2020) shows that black people are much less likely to live in an owner-occupied home. This is true irrespective of age with 87% of black children under the age of 5 living in rented housing compared to 39% of white children. The stock condition report of the 2016 English Housing Survey found 31% of households with a black household reference person (HRP) lived in poor housing (27% for all households) and 45% lived in a deprived area (19% for all households). The 2017-18 English Housing Survey reports households with a black HRP are more likely to live in a flat (52% compared to 20% for all households) with many more living in high rise flats (7% compared to 2% for all households).

These statistics provide only a very brief summary of the challenges facing black people in respect to housing and they are clearly great. This is an exceptionally difficult topic to tackle given the complexity of housing statistics, the limited availability of data, and the possibility of misinterpreting them. There is also a challenge in how the language and processes used by statisticians and analysts is perceived. But, if we want to solve the inequalities in housing, this is something we can not and should not ignore.