NPF Reports review: Housing

Housing, which was covered by the Communities policy commission, is now incorporated within the Housing, Local Government and Transport Policy Commission. It has met three times between February and April.  Given the breadth of this remit, there appear to only have been a limited focus on housing issues. According to the annual report, concern about the Right to Buy scheme was mentioned at the first meeting apparently because this was the focus of motions passed at the 2016 conference. The second meeting discussed the impact of leaving the EU on housing. The third meeting was attended by Eileen Short from Defend Council Housing and Alistair Smith from the National Housing Federation. This discussed the powers of councils to tackle rogue landlords, the need for public land to be used to build social and council housing and how to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder. The policy commission does not appear to have met since the general election. As the election was unexpected, there was no time for the Commission to meet to discuss the manifesto, though regional and local government members were phoned for comments. Continue reading

After the Grenfell fire


“We need good costs for Cllr Feilding-Mellen and the planner tomorrow at 8.45am!”

In July 2014, this chillingly innocuous-looking email was sent from a project manager to a cost consultant in respect of a refurbishment project. The consultant, Artelia, duly replied with a range of options, including reduced costs for overcladding as part of a package to save £293,368.

This proposal was adopted. The rest is history. Continue reading

What does inequality look like?

What does inequality look like?  In a society where the gap between rich and poor has widened significantly, what evidence of that gap would one expect to see?

A dramatic and painful answer to that question was provided to us this week with the shocking image of the burning London tower block.  If we ever wanted evidence of how – even in a society that is relatively affluent – the poor can be disregarded while the rich pursue their own interests, this was it.

The ‘towering inferno’ occurred in one of London’s most affluent boroughs. While around 120 poor families were crammed into Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey tower block, most of the borough comprises leafy suburbs and million-pound houses. Continue reading

Economic dogma, George Osborne and Grenfell Tower

What has the horror at Grenfell Tower to do with economists? And what have the lives lost at Grenfell Tower to do with the government’s budget deficit?  A great deal, I will argue here. When on Twitter a few days ago I raised the issue of the shared responsibility that economists have for this ghastly tragedy, I was attacked. So let me explain.

In the days before the Grenfell Tower inferno, mainstream economists complained that the economy was not at the heart of the general election campaign. What they meant was something quite different: that Treasury economic dogma about the need to cut the deficit was not at the heart of the election campaign.  Continue reading