Housing | The Guardian

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

24/11/2017 03:21 AM
Council proposes £1,000 fines for homeless people sleeping in tents

Stoke-on-Trent council called ‘callous’ for proposing penalty notice in city centre followed by court appearance and fine

A council has been called “cruel and callous” for proposing £1,000 fines to homeless people sleeping in tents in the city centre.

Stoke-on-Trent council in Staffordshire is consulting on a public space protection order (PSPO) that will make it an offence for a person to “assemble, erect, occupy or use” a tent unless part of a council-sanctioned activity such as a music festival.

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24/11/2017 03:20 AM
Mortgage approvals in UK at lowest level for 13 months

Bank agreements for homebuyers decline, seen by economists as further sign of British market downturn

British banks approved the fewest mortgages for house purchases in more than a year in October, with economists warning the decline could signal the start of a downturn in the UK housing market.

Mortgage approvals fell to a 13-month low of 40,488 last month, down from 41,576 in September, according to the industry trade body UK Finance.

Related: We needed a housing revolution. The chancellor gave us a sticking plaster | Miatta Fahnbulleh

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24/11/2017 01:00 AM
Generation rent: why I’ll never live on Britain’s (third) most expensive street

My worst nightmare is coming true: the neighbourhood is gentrifying

I come home to find a parcel on the kitchen table wrapped in parchment. “There goes the neighbourhood,” I mutter to myself, knowing what terror lies within. A spelt loaf.

This isn’t any ordinary spelt loaf. The sticker sealing it tells me it’s from the new store a few doors down. For weeks we’d peer in at the builders, wondering what the shop might become. A butcher? A phone shop? We could understand those. Instead, it sells artisan bread and skateboards. My worst nightmare is coming true: the neighbourhood is gentrifying.

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23/11/2017 07:23 PM
The Tories should be insensible with shame over a lack of funds for fire safety in our homes

Philip Hammond’s budget has failed to fix the housing crisis but, worse, has left families living in fear with no reassurance over fire safety measures

Around the time of the 2016 spring budget, I wrote about a first-time buyer who had taken advantage of the Conservatives’ help to buy scheme. Ask most people to imagine such a homebuyer and you’d likely imagine a young professional couple, excitedly exchanging keys and shuffling Dulux swatches, earmarking the boxroom as an office, or maybe a nursery. You might not expect the first-time buyer to be in her sixties and married to a Tory MP who already owns property.

Related: Help to buy is riddled with loopholes that the privileged can easily exploit

Related: Housebuilding is up – but what type of homes are being built?

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23/11/2017 06:00 PM
Nightmare in suburbia: how cinema found the darkness behind the picket fence

George Clooney and the Coen brothers’ new movie Suburbicon shows how discrimination is baked into US city planning. But they are far from the first to see trouble in a genteel neighbourhood

Suburbia was always poisoned. Not much in US history is as blandly shameful as the National Housing Act of 1934. Designed to insure mortgages and encourage home owning, the heart of the policy was “redlining”: underwriting loans in areas deemed safe financial bets, refusing those that were not. America being America, the real red line was racial. As prim new developments sprawled across the postwar nation, banks and mortgage brokers had official licence to reject black applicants – and anyone looking to buy a house where black people lived. For much of the 20th century, if you needed help to buy an American home, being white was not enough. You had to live among other white people, which meant joining the exodus to the suburbs. For everyone else, the picket fence meant Keep Out.

A glimpse of that reality can be found in Suburbicon, the new film directed by George Clooney. Set in 1959, the movie is a comedy, at least sometimes, with a typically acid script by the Coen brothers, although the attempt to deal with institutional racism has the tone wobbling madly. Clooney is surer footed on a more familiar version of the ’burbs, re-telling the old gag about the gulf between upstanding suburbanites and what goes on behind tightly drawn curtains. S&M with a ping-pong bat is the least of it in a thick stew of fraud and murder. You know, the suburbs.

The assumption has been that suburbia has modernised, progressed, diversified. Available evidence suggests not

If the US suburbs can seem unreal, they are – as artificial as the golf courses of Dubai.

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23/11/2017 06:53 AM
Budget decisions that are urgent matters of life and death | Letters
Professor Wendy Burn on fears that promises of spending on mental health services will be broken; Colin Dyer of WellChild on the failure to prioritise the wellbeing of the young; Rev Paul Nicolson on inadequate benefits, poverty and ill health; plus, letters on housing and economic growth

There is a real and imminent danger that the promises made to improve mental health services for the millions of people who need them are about to be betrayed. This is because the chancellor failed to give the NHS the money it needs to continue to deliver current levels of care (Extra cash ‘plugs some gaps but not all’, warns top doctor, 23 November). Before the budget, the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, warned that a cash shortfall would make it “increasingly difficult” to deliver on the government’s promise to improve mental health services in the coming years.

The chancellor’s failure to heed that warning means difficult choices will have to be made when NHS England’s leaders meet to consider the budget next week. We are seeking an urgent commitment from NHS England and the government that the promised improvements to mental health services will be honoured. As shown by the case of girl X, highlighted by Sir James Munby this summer (Bed found for suicidal girl after judge’s fury, 5 August), this is a matter of life and death for many of our most vulnerable citizens.

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23/11/2017 05:11 AM
IFS says budget shows UK 'in danger of losing two decades of earnings growth' - as it happened

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including reaction to the budget, Philip Hammond’s morning interviews and the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ post-budget briefing.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, ended his speech in the budget debate earlier (which is on the Hansard website now, here), by saying that the Tories should abandon government and made way for Labour. He told MPs:

The budget demonstrated that this is increasingly a government without purpose, divided and in disarray, whose confidence is sapped and whose time is up. I just say to them: it is better to go with a bit of dignity—just go with a bit of dignity!—rather than humiliating disintegration. Labour is ready and willing to form the government that this country needs, rather than this shambles that cannot even be described as a government.

The most familiar is a Marxist ideologue who got his training in politics in three engines of the hard left: the National Union of Mineworkers, where he worked as a researcher; the Greater London Council, where he served as deputy leader under “Red” Ken Livingstone until he was sacked for being too hard-line; and the Campaign Group of left-wing MPs, where he first forged links with Mr Corbyn ...

Yet the closer he gets to power, the more Honest John plays down his Marxist youth, which somehow lasted until he was in his 60s, and plays up three other images instead. The first is the ever-so-sensible bank manager ...

[McDonnell] also has the makings of an especially powerful chancellor. Mr Hammond is hamstrung by his poor relations with Theresa May, who made no secret of wanting to get rid of him if the June election had gone to plan. Mr McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have been joined hip-and-thigh for 35 years, united both by shared politics and by complementary skills. Mr Corbyn is an idealist who cultivates an image of sanctity. Mr McDonnell is an ideologue who gets things done. A future Labour government will be more of a McDonnell than a Corbyn one.

Nicola Sturgeon’s minority government has dropped plans to cut air passenger duty in Scotland by tens of millions of pounds from next April at the same as it wrestles with significant problems funding its election promises, particularly lifting the public sector pay cap and a £500m plus inflation increase in health spending.

In a footnote to yesterday’s UK budget papers, the Treasury said it had agreed to Scottish government requests to postpone the devolution of APD from 1 April 2018, so the UK government will continue to control the tax in Scotland, paying Holyrood its share through the block grant.

Sir Michael Fallon has given his first speech in the House of Commons since he resigned as defence secretary at the start of this month in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal saying his conduct had “fallen short” (he didn’t specify how). He spoke earlier this afternoon in the budget debate. He didn’t say anything about the circumstances of his resignation but instead gave a fairly wide-ranging speech (in the course of which he revealed, among other things, his inner Lib Dem).

Here are the main points.

A full-time worker on the national living wage pays almost as much in national insurance as in income tax. Those working part-time, for example £25 hours a week, earning between £8,000 and £11,000, they miss out as we increase the thresholds, and I hope my honourable friends will look at that again.

Employee-owned companies are more productive, they are more profitable, and isn’t higher productivity, isn’t that the golden fleece for which my right honourable friends keep searching?

We need not just one John Lewis Partnership, we need a thousand John Lewis Partnerships across our economy.

A fairer economy, much wider employee share ownership, exporting at the heart of every Government industrial programme; these are some of the necessary steps towards our new economic future.

Let us agree across this House, Brexiteers and Europhiles alike, that muddling along mere managerialism is not going to be enough. Brexit Britain demands a bigger vision, more confident, outward-looking, self-rewarding, let us build on this successful, sensible budget to enable Britain to be bolder still.

Here is the IFS presentation with its distributional analysis of the budget (pdf).

And here is the key chart, showing how tax and benefit changes affect people by income decile. The measures announced yesterday (the light green bars) broadly helped everyone by about the same amount. But, if you look at the cumulative effect of all measures taken since May 2015, they are deeply regressive. The people in the ninth decile (ie, the richest 80% to 90%) easily gain the most, while the poorest 30% lose the most.

The work and pensions secretary David Gauke is using Twitter to taunt the shadow chancellor. He has just posted this on Twitter.

Yesterday, on College Green, RT reporter and camera crew came up to me asking questions.

ME: I don't do interviews with RT.


ME: You're a propaganda station. Reputable politicians don't do interviews with RT.

INTERVIEWER: We've just had John McDonnell on.

As chancellor George Osborne never particularly welcomed the IFS verdict on his budgets. But as a newspaper editor, he can spot a story. Here is the Evening Standard’s splash.

Our second edition @EveningStandard carriers the grim news in today’s IFS report on the Budget pic.twitter.com/oWl9OzpUe6

And if all this economic news is so gloomy you feel tempted to get sloshed, even that gets covered by the IFS briefing. They’ve got tips on tax-efficient drinking ...

This is how we tax alcohol. Lovely chart. Crazy tax system. pic.twitter.com/WGNmpAZSxm

Cider, by the way, remains the most tax efficient route to oblivion https://t.co/FMAul6q7ao

The IFS has been tweeting some of the charts from the presentations on its Twitter feed.

Here are some of the most striking ones.

Slowdown in productivity is a global problem but OBR expects UK to perform worse than main competitors #Budget2017 pic.twitter.com/oHy6Rs4Ybn

Forecast for earnings in early 2020s still to be well below 2008 levels. Extraordinary. Forecasts earnings down by more than £1,400 since March 2016. pic.twitter.com/galVH4Wu7x

Boost to NHS spending and on course to meet manifesto commitment but still tough times for the NHS @TheIFS #Budget2017 pic.twitter.com/QnLVn4wPwZ

Context for housing measures: plummeting rates of home ownership among young adults across successive generations #Budget2017 pic.twitter.com/KZYHZgGMM1

300,000 target for new dwellings - this is high by historial standards pic.twitter.com/qj0b99BS0p

Roll-out of Universal Credit being delayed again #Budget2017 pic.twitter.com/whB6aYCvwf

Down at the Resolution Foundation’s post-Budget breakfast roundtable in St James’s Park over croissants and coffee this morning, former Treasury permanent secretary Nick (now Lord) Macpherson had some waspish words about the chancellor’s stamp duty cut for first-time buyers.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility found that the main beneficiaries of the stamp duty cut would be existing homeowners, because it will inflate prices.

I wouldn’t get too hung up on the impact on transactions and first-time buyers: this is a relieving tax on the government’s core supporters. The vast majority of young people can’t afford to buy any house and probably won’t for many years to come; but the proportion of the population who can - no doubt with the help of their parents - stump up the odd £250-300,000 is the sweet spot of Tory Middle England. So people who claim it’s bad value for money get it slightly wrong. It’s all about shoring up political support.

There are some perfectly sensible policies in this budget. The sad thing is they will have very little impact because they are so small. It’s a perfectly reasonable political choice - you’ve got to fill up a budget speech, and there’s always that choice between one big measure and spreading your largesse rather more thinly, and that is what the chancellor has done. It makes perfect sense in political terms: perhaps less sense in economic terms.

Here is the IFS presentation on “Consequences of the economic downgrade” (pdf).

Here is the presentation on “Public spending: Delaying the squeeze” (pdf).

Here are the key points from Paul Johnson’s presentation at the IFS.

[The forecasts] now suggest that GDP per capita will be 3.5% smaller in 2021 than forecast less than two years ago in March 2016. That’s a loss of £65 billion to the economy. Average earnings look like they will be nearly £1,400 a year lower than forecast back then, still below their 2008 level. We are in danger of losing not just one but getting on for two decades of earnings growth.

Yet this is not the end of “austerity”. Not by a long chalk. There are still nearly £12 billion of welfare cuts to work through the system, while day-to-day public service spending is still due to be 3.6% lower in 2022–23 than it is today. Excluding health the cut for the rest of public services is over 6% - to keep this spending constant in per capita terms spending would need to be £13 billion higher in 2022-23 than currently planned.

Day to day spending on public services outside of the NHS is due to fall by yet another 7% over the next five years. In truth I would be amazed if that actually happened. The last few years have been marked by constant (small) upgrades to implausibly tight spending plans to avoid problems in prisons, social care and now health. There will almost inevitably be more such top ups in the years ahead.

While the public pay cap has been lifted no additional money has yet been allocated and the Treasury is committed to providing extra money only for nurses. Given the spending constraints, other public sector workers should not be holding their breath in anticipation of an inflation busting, or perhaps even 1% busting, pay rise.

The trouble with lower projected growth rates though is that they imply debt being higher over time for any given level of borrowing. Debt fell rapidly after the second world war whilst we still ran modest deficits because nominal growth was strong. The sorts of modest growth rates currently expected imply that, if we were to maintain the deficit at the just over 1% of national income projected for the early 2020s, it would take us until well past 2060s for debt to fall to its pre-crisis levels of 40% of national income. That assumes no recessions for the next half century.

Suppose we do get 300,000 new homes a year. Might that reverse the fall in home ownership among the younger generation? It’s important to think clearly here. That fall up to now is not because young people are living nowhere, it’s because they are renting from older people who have bought properties to rent out because that provides a good return. Older, richer people might continue to buy these new properties. They will stop doing so only when they take the view that the return in terms of rent and capital gain is not worth their while – the consumption value of housing needs to rise relative to its investment value. That’s how the actuality and promise of more house building can tip the scales in favour of younger buyers.

It’s also important to think clearly about the impact of stamp duty. The OBR has said that the price faced by first time buyers might rise twice as much as the saving in stamp duty. Stamp duty cuts do lead to price rises. The price rise can be bigger than the duty cut in part because properties are transacted multiple times and in part because of the leverage effect – if I pay £1 less in stamp duty I can put down £1 more deposit, meaning I can obtain a larger mortgage. So the £1 cut allows me to spend more than £1 more on a house.

But this does not mean first time buyers are worse off as a result. They are in general better off. Instead of paying, say, £100,000 for £98,000 worth of house plus £2,000 of tax they might be paying £102,000 for £102,000 worth of house. That’s a better outcome for them.

The economic impact wrapped up in [the OBR] forecasts is the same as they made a year ago based on what they describe as some fairly “broad brush” assumptions. Just to recap on what the OBR said a year ago. Their view then, accepted by government, was that the Brexit vote would result in a £15 billion a year deterioration in the public finances. They have not changed that judgment. The additional slow down in this year’s forecasts are not put down to Brexit.

IFS #Budget2017 analysis. Yesterday’s Budget was more about the OBR’s forecasts than it was the Chancellor’s policy decisions. The forecasts for productivity, earnings and economic growth make pretty grim reading. https://t.co/ifNr9iQbv8 pic.twitter.com/8mgCi2n3yW

IFS #Budget2017 analysis. Before any policy changes, borrowing is now forecast to be £12 billion higher in 2021–22 than was forecast in March. The Chancellor’s response was not to turn the fiscal screws even tighter. https://t.co/ifNr9iQbv8 pic.twitter.com/ManfgrecVz

IFS #Budget2017 analysis. This is not the end of “austerity”. There are still nearly £12 billion of welfare cuts to work through the system, while day-to-day public service spending is still due to be 3.6% lower in 2022–23 than it is today. https://t.co/ifNr9iQbv8 pic.twitter.com/05eWvZ9LFG

The UK is currently growing more slowly than other advanced economies. The immediate effects on households are already being felt. IFS #Budget2017 analysis - read more here https://t.co/ifNr9iQbv8 pic.twitter.com/f95qU8uhVY

The Institute for Fiscal Studies post-budget briefing has started.

Here is the text of the opening remarks from Paul Johnson, the director.

In the Commons John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has just finished his speech opening today’s debate on the budget. He ended by saying that the government was so chaotic that it would be better for ministers to “go with dignity” than carry on like this. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is responding now, and doesn’t seem inclined to take up McDonnell’s proposal.

The Labour MP Ivan Lewis has been suspended from the party while sexual harassment allegations are being investigated, ITV’s Amber de Botton reports.

Labour spox: “The Labour Party takes all allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously. Ivan Lewis is currently suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”

Yes. The chancellor did a very good job yesterday ...

What the chancellor was doing was setting out how we will ensure we have an economy fit for the future. Both the chancellor and I agree that what the Budget was about was about jobs for people up and down the country. It’s about ensuring that people are in work.

Asked about the leaked Irish government document saying EU ministers and officials aren’t impressed by the government’s handling of the Brexit talks (see 10.31am), a Downing Street spokesman said: “I don’t comment on leaked documents. The government is working hard on preparations for Brexit.”

David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, is making a statement to MPs giving more details of the changes to universal credit announced in the budget yesterday. My colleague Peter Walker has the key points.

Small print of universal credit changes in budget being explained to Commons by David Gauke:
• end of 7-day waiting period won't happen till February
• 2-week extension of housing benefit to reduce rent arrears won't happen till April.

Last week, when MPs were debating the EU withdrawal bill, they voted down an amendment tabled by the Green MP Caroline Lucas that would have transferred the EU protocol on animal sentience set into UK law, thereby guaranteeing that animals would continue to be recognised as sentient beings under UK law. It was defeated by 313 votes to 295.

The government said it was opposed to the amendment because it was unnecessary and potentially confusing. Dominic Raab, the justice minister, told MPs that animal sentience was “already recognised as a matter of domestic law, primarily in the Animal Welfare Act 2006”.

It has been suggested that the vote last week on new clause 30 of the EU withdrawal bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception.

Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against new clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.

Once we have left the EU there is even more we could do. EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter. EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 [the relevant EU law] has not stopped any of these practices – but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.

In the Commons just now the Lib Dem MP Tom Brake asked about the leaked Irish government document saying EU ministers and officials are unimpressed by Britain’s handling of Brexit. (See 10.31am.) Brake said the report painted a “rather unflattering picture of the UK government’s negotiating skills” and he asked for a debate on the government’s incompetence.

Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, urged Brake “to stop talking the country down”. She went on:

We are extremely optimistic about the prospects for the UK as we leave the EU and his constant pessimism is not helping.

Donations to the Conservatives in three months to the end of September outstripped those to all the other political parties, according to the latest official figures. As the Press Association reports, the Electoral Commission said the Tories reported receiving donations of £3,701,470 in the third quarter of 2017, despite having lost their Commons majority in the general election earlier in the year.

Labour declared donations of £1,739,580 over the same period with the Co-operative Party receiving a further £30,000. Despite their disappointing showing in the election, the Liberal Democrats received £610,444 while the SNP was given £44,039, Ukip £35,640 and the Green party £26,550, PA reports.

The Conservatives have also criticised John McDonnell for not being able to say how much Labour’s borrowing plans would add to the annual debt repayment bill. (See 10.07am.) They put out this statement from Steve Barclay, the economic secretary to the Treasury.

Labour refuse to come clean on how much taxpayers would have to pay for their borrowing binge. Labour would add hundreds of billions more to the country’s debt, meaning higher taxes on workers and less money for our schools and hospitals.

In the Commons Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, has just announced the dates for the final five days of debate on the EU withdrawal bill’s committee stage. They are all in December, with last one on Wednesday 20 December, the day before the Commons rises for the Christmas recess.

Leader of the House announces we’ll basically being doing the #EUWithdrawalBill all day everyday to Christmas :
Day 4 – Mon 4
Day 5 – Weds 6
Day 6 – Tues 12
Day 7 – Weds 13
Day 8 – Weds 20 (Final of Committee)
Remaining Stages in the New Year

The Irish broadcast RTE has got hold of an internal report written by the Irish foreign ministry summing up what EU ministers and officials have been telling its diplomats about Britain’s handling of the Brexit negotiations. Europe is not impressed, the RTE report says. It says the report paints “a negative and deeply unflattering picture of Britain’s performance in the Brexit negotiations”. Here’s an excerpt.

The opinions voiced by EU ministers and senior officials to Irish diplomats reflect widespread pessimism and even scorn about the British government’s negotiating position.

Some EU figures talk of “chaos” in the British government.

Sir Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, has criticised John McDonnell for not being able to say how much Labour’s borrowing plans would add to annual debt repayments. (See 10.07am.) Cable said:

It’s worrying that the shadow chancellor hasn’t done his sums. Or perhaps he has done his sums and he realises they’re so horrendous that he’s unwilling to acknowledge that his version of a Labour government would put the country into financial difficulties.

We start from a bad position. The budget warned of increased borrowing, dependent on the ‘kindness of strangers’. A Labour government focused on massive nationalisation would make things even worse.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has also been giving interviews this morning. The most striking moment came when he he got involved in a tetchy exchange with Today’s Mishal Husain who asked him repeatedly how much extra it would cost the government every year to service the national debt under Labour’s plans for extra borrowing.

McDonnell said the cost would be “minimal”, but he could not put a figure on it, and claimed that the question was “trite”.

MH: Yesterday when you were asked about the amount that it costs us at the moment to service our debt, you struggled. What I want to ask you is do you have a figure for how much more it would cost to service our debt every year under Labour?

JM: The type of journalism where you go into an interview and someone asks you a question on a particular figure, to be honest, is a trite form of journalism. That’s why we have iPads, and that’s why I have advisers, etc. So let’s get back to the reality of this ...

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says debt incurred by borrowing to increase productivity would "pay for itself" over the long-term https://t.co/GutOOFQqEn #r4today

Weirdest thing is that we asked him on Budget special prog yday and he didn’t know, but then we discussed the figure - not to be familiar with it this morning seems odd https://t.co/IuFByMDM1r

Here are the main points from Philip Hammond’s morning interviews.

This is a fascinating new technology. It is going to revolutionise our lives, it is going to revolutionise the way we work. And for some people this will be very challenging.

It will happen, I can promise you. It is happening already. Cars are driving around our roads at the moment with a safety attendant on board with the car driving itself ...

We have said by 2021 we want to see on Britain’s roads genuine driverless vehicles.

Things like this will transform the productivity of our economy. The challenge for us is making sure that the million-odd people in the UK who drive for a living, over the next 10, 20 years or so, as driverless vehicles come in, are able to retrain and reskill so they can take up the many, many new jobs that this economy will be throwing up.

We always understood that as we went through this process of negotiation with the EU there would be uncertainty about the outcome. When you are in a negotiation you never know what the outcome is going to be.

As we move forward into 2018 I hope we will get increasing clarity about how these negotiations are going to move forward, an increasing sense that we are getting on and doing Brexit, and as we get that sense of clarity and sense of movement I think confidence will return, certainty about the future will return, businesses will start investing, consumers will start buying big ticket consumer items again and that will help to get our economy growing again faster.

No, not at all. The UK economy is fundamentally strong.

The growth figures for the next few years are disappointing, we have got to try and outperform those forecasts that we saw yesterday, but they do show growth picking up towards the end of the period.

Of course we could get the deficit down more quickly, but that would mean cutting public spending, it would mean squeezing the economy harder, it would mean putting up taxes. We have taken the judgment that it is better to take a little bit longer to get the deficit down and ease up on families a little bit.

I’m focused on getting this done.

I take the world as it is. We are leaving the European Union and that has certain consequences and we need to prepare for those consequences. We need to make sure that we make a success of this. And that is the government’s number one priority.

@BBCr4today Humphrys to Hammond: “you’re too gloomy”. Hammond: “no, I’m not.” Humphrys: “but you’re a remainer!” Great forensic analysis there as we collectively head for disaster.

Sky’s Faisal Islam has noticed this detail from Philip Hammond’s speech yesterday.

Chancellor at Budget yesterday:
“Britain is the world’s sixth largest economy”

PM, to Lord Mayor’s Dinner, last week:
“We are the fifth biggest economy in the world” pic.twitter.com/jVsyWo0f9N

So the Treasury officially recognises that the post Brexit vote sterling devaluation/ slower 2017 growth has this year relegated total UK GDP from 5th place behind France into 6th

Q: Why was Jeremy Corbyn so angry in the Commons chamber yesterday?

Hammond says that is what Corbyn does. He is “Mr Angry from Islington”.

Q: Is £3bn enough for Brexit planning?

Hammond says that is what he thinks he will need.

But if we need more, we will find more.

Q: Do we set too much store by the OBR?

Hammond says he has to respond to their forecasts. People would complain if he ignored them. We are not going back to the days when the government wrote its own growth forecasts, as it did under Gordon Brown.

Nick Ferrari is interviewing Philip Hammond now on LBC.

He starts by asking about the stamp duty cut, saying it has had a good reception from callers on his programme. But what about the OBR critique? Hammond repeats the point he made earlier. (See 8.07am.)

The Resolution Foundation has just issued this press release about its budget analysis, Freshly Squeezed.

NEW RF Overnight Budget analysis - Britain on course for longest fall in living standards since records began over 60 years ago https://t.co/jGcxFfVsFU

Following years of incremental changes, yesterday the OBR handed down the mother of all economic downgrades pushing up borrowing for the Treasury.

While Philip Hammond chose to take a relaxed approach to additional borrowing, families are unlikely to do so when it comes to the deeply troubling outlook for their living standards that the Budget numbers set out. Families are now projected to be in the early stages of the longest period of continuous falls in disposable incomes in over 60 years – longer even than that following the financial crisis.

Q: You had a lot of jokes in the speech.

Hammond says it was a long speech, and some of it was technical. Jokes help liven it up, he says.

Q: Is is true you wanted to do a photo opportunity with a driverless car but were told not to, because it would look like a metaphor?

No, says Hammond. It’s a good story, but not true.

Q: What will the £3bn for Brexit planning be spent on?

Hammond says most of it will be spend on departmental preparations. For example, Defra will need to set up a new system for registering animal movements between the UK and the EU.

Q: What are you going to do about people hoarding land but not building on it?

Hammond says he is setting up a review.

Humphrys asks about the story about a firm set up by Hammond sitting on land with planning permission that it is not using.

Hammond says he has nothing to do with the company now. There are strict rules about this, he says. It would be wrong for him to be involved.

Q: The OBR says your stamp duty cut will not help first-time buyers.

Hammond says the OBR did a specific piece of modelling. They looked at cutting stamp duty without doing anything else. (It is the point he made on BBC News earlier - see 8.07am.)

Q: The Resolution Foundation says wages will not return to their pre-crash peak until the middle of the next decade.

Hammond says you can only generate higher wages by improving productivity.

Q: Our productivity is still desperate. We have not been able to get a grip on it. You have been in power for seven years. Why haven’t you done something about this?

Hammond says the country was facing a fiscal and economic crisis after the crash.

John Humphrys is interviewing Philip Hammond.

Q: Do you ever think there is no point? Chancellors make predictions and they don’t come true.

Philip Hammond’s budget seems to have “landed” well, as they say in Westminster lingo. The Tory-leaning papers like it, and no-one has identified a policy so flawed it that it will have to be abandoned (as happened in the last three budgets). One of the biggest problems is the fact that the Office for Budget Responsibility says says Hammond’s stamp duty cut for first-time buyers will just push up prices, so that sellers end up gaining more than buyers. But Hammond, who has been doing a round of interviews this morning, has dismissed this criticism. He told the BBC:

The OBR looked at a particular narrow question - if you reduce stamp duty and don’t do anything else what would happen?

But we have not done ‘nothing else’, we have introduced a very big package, £15bn of extra money going in on top of the billions we are already spending on housing to increase the number of houses that we build in this country.

Related: Budget 2017: Hammond masks gloomy outlook with stamp duty cut

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23/11/2017 05:00 AM
Marriage equality is important, but let's not forget homeless LGBTI youth | Matthew Abbey

The conversation on marriage equality has left out marginalised members of the LGBTI community, like homeless youth

The public has voted in favour of marriage equality, but the right to marry is only one piece of the puzzle. Everyone is talking about walking down the aisle; however, the reality is that LGBTI youth are sleeping on the streets.

The debate on marriage equality has sparked new heights of LGBTI activism throughout the country. Yet the vote, which was non-binding, non-compulsory and cost $122 million, eclipsed our attention and financial resources from other areas of advocacy.

Related: Transgender and homeless: the young people who can't get the support they need

Related: Nearly 40% of homeless youths are LGBT, and I'm currently one of them | Noah Brown

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23/11/2017 03:37 AM
We needed a housing revolution. The chancellor gave us a sticking plaster | Miatta Fahnbulleh
Nothing in Philip Hammond’s budget indicated that he has any idea of the scale or urgency of the challenges facing Britain

When the chancellor stood up on Wednesday to deliver his budget, it was against a tough economic backdrop. It’s been a decade of stagnating wages, rising inflation driving up the cost of living, increasing household debt as people borrow to make ends meet, and growing wealth inequality. And things are about to get much, much worse. With productivity growth massively downgraded, wages are not forecast to return to their pre-crisis levels until 2025.

The scale of the challenge facing the country cannot be underplayed. But it also creates an opportunity. What was desperately needed from Philip Hammond was a big, bold budget with real action on the cost of living, proper investment in the everyday economy, and above all the fundamental reforms to fix our broken economy. We got none of that.

Related: Budget 2017: Hammond masks gloomy outlook with stamp duty cut

Related: The Guardian view on budget 2017: a missed opportunity | Editorial

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22/11/2017 09:39 PM
Philip Hammond: stamp duty axe is incentive to save house deposit

Chancellor says criticism that his flagship policy will merely raise house prices overlooks his plan to build more homes

Philip Hammond has defended his flagship housing policy against criticism it will raise house prices and said that abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers would create an incentive to save a deposit.

The chancellor said the policy, which abolished the stamp duty on homes under £300,000 for first-time buyers, would help a million people get on the housing ladder.

Related: Hammond says 1m people who drive for living will have to retrain over next 20 years as driverless cars introduced - Politics live

Stamp duty is a tax charged by the government when you buy a property for more than £125,000. The amount you pay depends on the cost of your new home. 

Related: UK faces longest fall in living standards since records began, says thinktank

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22/11/2017 06:00 PM
Chancellor targets English regions with multibillion investment

Budget aims to tackle London-centric economy by announcing spending plans for areas including the north and Midlands

English regions including the north and the Midlands will receive a multibillion-pound investment in an effort to reduce the weighting of the economy towards London.

Speaking as he announced plans aimed at improving transport links and devolving more power to the regions, Philip Hammond said “far too much of our economic strength is concentrated in our capital city”.

Related: Autumn budget: the winners, the losers and the overlooked

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22/11/2017 07:56 AM
Hammond safe at No 11 after 'clanger-free' budget

An optimistic, gaffe-free chancellor offered enough to keep his key to No 11 – at least for now

Just days ago, Philip Hammond was battling for his political life amid television gaffes and pressure from Brexit-supporting MPs who considered him – and the Treasury – way too gloomy about Britain’s prospects after leaving the EU.

As he stood up to deliver a budget that most agreed posed tricky challenges, bookies were taking bets on how long it would be until this chancellor was shunted out of No 11.

Related: What the 2017 autumn budget means for you

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22/11/2017 07:47 AM
The Guardian view on budget 2017: a missed opportunity | Editorial
Philip Hammond has admitted that seven years of obsessing about the public sector deficit and shrinking the state has left the economy enfeebled and smaller than before the crisis. But he continues to put ideology above evidence

The last seven years has been an experiment in politics; testing a hypothesis about whether you could cut your way to growth. Philip Hammond’s budget suggests that you cannot. The government’s argument has been that only a programme of rigid deficit reduction and public spending cuts would heal a sick, bloated economy. The damaging consequences of that strategy were laid bare by the Treasury today. Rolling back key public services and declining to invest for the future has meant the economy is smaller than it was forecast to be. Even worse, it has become enfeebled, unable to grow as fast as it historically has done. The result is a poorer, more indebted British state less able to act in the name of economic justice: the higher pay pledged to low-paid workers by the government under the national living wage scheme won’t now materialise when ministers had promised. The UK has experienced almost a lost decade of stagnating wages and shrivelling the state. It is true that Mr Hammond can say that the economy is now recuperating. But the nation has not recovered its pre-crisis vigour. Nor can the chancellor say when, or if, it ever will.

This budget represents a missed opportunity for Mr Hammond to reset the narrative and build up much-needed political capital with his own side by signalling a new direction about where the government is going. What he did in an hour-long speech was to please neither the state-shrinkers on the Conservative backbenches nor those critics who suggest he should fire up growth with the big bazooka of public spending. Instead the chancellor produced a pea shooter: announcing the only post-election giveaway budget since the millennium by borrowing an extra £14bn over the next five years. More cash for an industrial strategy, infrastructure investment and hi-tech research should be welcomed. As should Mr Hammond’s attempts to tax internet giants, which contrasts with his silence over the recent revelations of offshore tax avoidance.

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22/11/2017 07:35 AM
Empty homes council tax rise unlikely to deter rich owners, say critics

Hammond’s 100% extra tax on vacant property dismissed as ‘joke’ unlikely to hit wealthy buyers or spur re-use of housing

The government’s plan to tackle the housing crisis by increasing council tax on empty homes has been labelled a joke which will have little effect on the oligarchs, foreign royals and multi-millionaire businesses who own expensive vacant properties in the UK. .

Related: Key points from budget 2017 – at a glance

Hammond announcing an allowance for councils to charge a 100% council tax rate on empty property won't solve this issue. We need to have a punitive rate above normal council tax to actually incentivise reuse of empty properties. What a joke. #Budget2017 #FitForTheFew

Related: Empty homes: normal rules do not apply to super-rich in London

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22/11/2017 07:07 AM
Budget 2017: Hammond masks gloomy outlook with stamp duty cut

Chancellor calls it a ‘balanced’ budget and uses eye-catching offer to first-time buyers to counter Britain’s deteriorating economic prospects

Philip Hammond placed a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers at the heart of his budget on Wednesday as he sought to mask Britain’s deteriorating economic prospects by pledging to “revive the homeowning dream”.

Faced with evidence showing that the UK will be one of the weakest growing major economies in the next five years, the chancellor announced a modest increase in funding for the NHS, and announced £15bn of measures to tackle the housing crisis.

Related: Autumn budget: the winners, the losers and the overlooked

Stamp duty is a tax charged by the government when you buy a property for more than £125,000. The amount you pay depends on the cost of your new home. 

Related: The Guardian view on budget 2017: a missed opportunity | Editorial

The Office for Budget Responsibility is the government’s independent forecaster, which gives its verdict on the outlook for growth and the public finances twice a year.

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22/11/2017 05:57 AM
Grenfell Tower fire: chancellor gives extra £28m to help victims

Budget pledges cash to Kensington & Chelsea council but offers no nationwide help for fire safety work in other towers

An additional £28m of government funding is to be provided to help the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, Philip Hammond said in his budget, but he did not announce any central government funds to pay for essential fire safety work in other towers.

The chancellor said the Grenfell disaster, in which 71 people died and hundreds were left homeless and traumatised, was a “tragedy that should never have happened” and the government was committed to ensuring “nothing like it ever happens again”.

Related: Autumn budget: the day's biggest winners and losers

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21/11/2017 10:05 PM
To get people off the streets, Philip Hammond, help homeless people rent

Only two in 10 private landlords would consider renting to someone who is homeless, but the chancellor can solve this crisis by supporting help to rent

Imagine you are homeless. Because social housing in our country is shrinking one of the only ways you can get a home is by privately renting.

But you have escaped domestic violence; perhaps you have lost your job or been through a relationship breakdown and found yourself in a downward spiral with little support. You certainly have no money for a deposit and a private landlord is highly unlikely to rent to you.

Related: Shocking homeless figures show toxic mix cuts and lack of home building | Polly Neate

Related: Revealed: universal credit sends rent arrears soaring

Related: We had dealt with homelessness. Why has it now returned? | Lynsey Hanley

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21/11/2017 07:30 PM
What England needs is more affordable houses, not universal credit | Peter Hetherington
The botched rollout of universal credit has led to £1.3m in council rental arrears in Newcastle, the city where I, Daniel Blake was set. Ministers are making the housing crisis worse

Across the road from where Daniel Blake pleaded for fairness with jobcentre staff in Ken Loach’s 2016 film, a real human drama is unfolding in Newcastle upon Tyne’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Since becoming the largest city to pilot universal credit last March, rent arrears with Newcastle council’s housing provider have gone through the roof. At the last count, they stood at £1.3m. Some tenants have run out of cash, leaving the bureau to pick up the pieces.

Think about that: at least 2,400 people in rental arrears in a medium-sized city, with a growing economy, thriving digital sector, two universities and a rich cultural offer. It could be anywhere in England. Newcastle’s experience with universal credit and the consequent impact on social housing – and the shrinkage it is inflicting on the private rented sector – should be a warning to the rest of the country as it is rolled out.

What is universal credit?

Related: Labour attacks universal credit as 'not fit for purpose'

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21/11/2017 07:26 PM
‘I’ve run out of tears’: inside London’s temporary housing crisis - video

Connect House in Mitcham, London, is a converted office block in the depths of an industrial estate that is temporarily home to vulnerable people, families and young children. We meet two young mothers who tell us what daily life is like there. An estimated 120,540 children with their families live in temporary accommodation across England, a  figure that has risen 37% since 2014.

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21/11/2017 06:28 AM
Millennials struggling to make ends meet | Letters
Sam Webb says it’s unlikely he’ll ever own his own home. Róisín McLaren says you can’t build a life on a zero-hours contract. Boomer Naomi Clayton says she went without food and furniture to afford her first house

Sajid Javid’s comments reported in Peter Walker’s article (‘£90k is a lot of avocados’: Javid defends millennials who can’t afford a home, theguardian.com, 16 November) could not be more accurate. As a 24-year-old, I am so often forced to listen to my elders’ indignation for my choosing to take a holiday, or have a meal out with friends when every penny I earn should be saved for a house. When you consider increasing prices and decreasing availability of property in the UK, along with the banks’ appetites to lend being lower than ever, it’s unlikely I will ever own my own home. Perhaps I just need to accept that thousands of us are destined to spend the rest of our lives throwing all of our money at the people who own the properties we rent from them while they complain about how irresponsible we are.
Sam Webb
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

• Have you heard about the massive discounts available for the under-25s? Unfortunately not; in reality the only thing reduced for us is our wages. Under-25s are excluded from the pitiful “national living wage”. From 21-24 we can be paid as little as £7.05 per hour, and for 18-20 a shocking £5.60 for doing exactly the same hours in exactly the same job. Even working full-time a 24-year-old might get as little as £14,500 per annum. And we’re far more likely to be on a zero-hours contract. You can’t build a life on that. We want to move out, start families, make our own way in the world. We’ll never do that while being exploited as cheap labour for big retail and catering businesses. It’s time to fight for a real living wage for all.
Róisín McLaren
West Calder, West Lothian

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