I came across the campaign group Positive Money’s website this morning whilst reading letters readers of The Observer had written in response to its coverage last week of the rise in private rented housing in Britain, aka Generation Rent.
The website puts across a stark argument about the role banks have played in fueling runaway house price inflation by pumping billions of pounds into the property sector during the decade before the economic crash.
The result, it says, is that property values doubled in this time and we are not poorer, not richer, as an ever-increasing share of our incomes is spent on keeping roofs over our heads.
Check out the website, which sets out what the public can do to support the campaign. The two-minute video below sets out the argument about the role banks have played in creating this issue.
Part of the emerging narrative about journalism appears to criticise all newspapers for recklessly (or ‘illegally’) blagging people’s personal details without justification for doing so. If this is accurate, the public would be right to believe that every journalist who ‘blags’ information (or pays someone to do it for them) is as bad as the rest.
This appears to be the mood amongst many on Twitter, as well as some people with (perhaps) an interest in restricting the press.
Witness this tweet from the blogger Guido Fawkes – which implies the Guardian Media Group (which publishes The Guardian and The Observer) has broken the law as well as its ethical code.
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Housing minister Grant Shapps
Housing Minister Grant Shapps’ pledge in The Observer to deliver some stability to Britain’s housing market will come as welcome news to millions of people who can not afford to get a foot on the ladder.
In making the case for a cultural shift in the way Britons view their property investment, Mr Shapps is stating what many people who do not own their home have been aware of for years: that the current status quo should not be allowed to continue.
The facts in the South West, which has some of the highest house prices and lowest household incomes of any area in the country, are stark. In some areas, house prices are more than 15 times the average annual salary. Holding down two jobs is clearly not going to be enough in this case; 12 may just about do it.
I welcome the recognition that house prices can not be allowed to sky-rocket as they have done in the past, even if it is acknowledged that the Government can not set the cost of home ownership in this country. There are other elements to this complex issue, however. A focus on increasing and diversifying supply, creating a well-regulated and effective private rental sector as an alternative to home ownership and improving access to mortgage finance can all help in this area.
That’s a big set of challenges, but I know plenty of people in the sector who are up for playing their part in addressing them.
Welcome to the ‘chaos theory’ of government – The Observer
The Observer takes an in-depth look at the Government’s Big Society and localism policies, framed around a recent debate where Conservative MP Nick Boles suggested that ‘chaos’ would be more effective than top-down government. In the end, his comments appear to be little more than an expression of the belief that, if power is devolved to local communities, there will be many different approaches to service delivery rather than ‘one size fits all’. That is quite different from the ‘we want to unleash chaos’ piece carried elsewhere on The Observer website. People can watch a video of the debate here.
The year’s best regional headline howlers – HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk
On a lighter note, regional journalism website HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk has assembled this collection of headline howlers from the last year – and there are some belters for readers to vote for. The ‘dirty dozen’ includes a couple of entries from my ex-employers, the Sheffield Star. There but for the grace of God…