Category Archives: Housing

“I take illegal measures to support my family against benefit cuts”

spare bedroom
Image by Sophie Drake

In January 2014, Iain Duncan Smith, Government Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, set out plans for the future of welfare in the UK.

In his policy speech ‘Simplifying the welfare system and making sure work pays’ he said: “Our welfare reforms are about ensuring it is no longer more worthwhile to be on benefits than in work.”

But difficulties with illness, finding suitable work and trying to manage family finances mean it is far from simple for many hard-pressed families.

Breaking the rules

21-year-old Sarah from Cornwall pays her stepfather’s monthly ‘spare room subsidy’ charge in return for living in the unoccupied room he has in his four bedroom house. Continue reading


4 unmissable graphs of the UK’s housing bubble

From the construction and housing booms to price changes and renting versus buying, Tom Davies presents 4 charts to explain what’s happened to housing.

1    Bursting point? Another housing bubble

  •  How unaffordable can it get?  House prices in the UK continue  to increase.

Median earnings only increased by 57% from 1996 to 2012, but house prices have gone up by 157%.

Though low interest rates have kept mortgage costs relatively affordable, house prices are now more than twice as expensive relative to earnings.

2 Rent or Buy?  The difference when ownership means wealth

  • Property matters

In comparison with other European countries, property prices are a significant proportion of the wealth held by British households. In England and Wales, 69% of people own property, whilst this trend is reversed in Germany. Continue reading

25 Twitter accounts to follow in 2014 on welfare reform – numbers 11-25

We’ve compiled a list of 25 useful Twitter accounts if you want to follow welfare reform. Yesterday we revealed the first 10 – here are the other 15…

11.Samuel Miller @Hephaestus7

Disability specialist Samuel Miller is taking the government to court in The Hague over possible crimes to humanity.

12. Real Life Reform @RealLifeReform

This northern housing consortium is running an eighteen month study tracking how people are living and coping with welfare reform across the north of England from April 2013 to October 2014. Real Life Reform are bringing together case studies of social housing tenants to capture not only the financial but also the human impact. Continue reading

19 places to get updates on welfare reform

If you want to keep track of what’s happening in welfare reform we’ve compiled this list of some of the most useful – and varied – sources on everything from the bedroom tax to child poverty.

We’ve also put together a dashboard if you want to follow these on a single easy-to-check webpage. You can follow a public version here, or add it to Netvibes here.

Here’s who we’ve added – can you think of others?

1. The Guardian – topic: welfare

The Guardian is the UK newspaper that invests the most in covering welfare issues.

Their website allows you to follow specific topics such as ‘benefits‘ (within the Society section), as well as individual journalists, such as Patrick ButlerBut we’ve picked the general ‘politics – welfare’ topic first because it sometimes includes stories written by other journalists that aren’t classified under either of the other. 

This story on Nick Clegg’s criticism of child benefit policy, for example, comes under ‘child benefit’ rather than ‘benefits’, and is written by a politics reporter – but it does still come under the welfare topic.

2. Inside Housing: news

With so little specialist coverage in the press, specialist magazines are often a better place to look for welfare-related news. Continue reading

How to find new leads in an old news report on empty property

empty property in Croydon - image by United Diversity
empty property in Croydon – image by United Diversity

Background material and general reporting on an area can often provide all sorts of clues and leads for further, deeper investigation.

This piece from the Birmingham Mail is a particularly good example. On the surface it is a rather general report on an empty property in the city – but along the way it includes all sorts of helpful pointers if you want to dig further. Continue reading