Archive for May, 2014

Rent controls are unpopular in the UK, and for years politicians avoided even mentioning the idea. Now that it’s been floated again, the response from former housing minister Grant Schapps was to raise the spectre of Venezuela-style socialism. Anyhow, this kind of casual ignorance annoys me and so I wrote something for the New Internationalist on what rent control looks in Venezuela, and why it might not be so bad for the UK.

“Earlier this month, British minister for housing Grant Shapps called proposals to ban letting agents’ fees and cap increases in rent ‘Venezuela-style rent controls’.

Like Britain, Venezuela has a housing crisis. In 2011, 3.7 million people were registered as homeless or vulnerably housed. The 2012 presidential elections saw housing become a key issue, and incumbent President Hugo Chávez promised to tackle the problem.”

Read the full post here.

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Last April, the ‘Social Fund’ was cut and the remaining money distributed to around 200 Councils. The fund had been used to provide Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants through the Job Centre. As part of an investigation with the Guardian, I looked at what was happening under the new localised system to the number of people applying for help – and the number of them who actually received support. Suffice to say the new scheme has been far from successful.

Read the full article here, and the associated datablog piece here.