Housing association debt to be wiped off government's balance sheet

Reports that the government is to reclassify housing associations as private organisations in a move ministers hope will enable them to borrow more money for housebuilding feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Housing associations are to be reclassified by the UK government as private organisations, in a move that ministers hope will encourage them to build more homes, the Financial Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, communities secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday "the switch away from treating associations as public bodies, saying that it should enable them to borrow more money to ‘build more homes’".

The Financial Times (subscription required) also reports that one of the 15 local authorities yesterday given an ultimatum over slow local plan-making progress is Runnymede, the chancellor Philip Hammond’s council. The newspaper says that the news comes "just days before the chancellor is expected to present a housing-focused Budget". "Hammond, who is MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, is under pressure to produce an array of measures next Wednesday designed to boost the supply of housing across the country," the newspaper reports.

Most houses in Japan have a lifespan of only about 30 years, the Guardian reports. "Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes gradually depreciate over time, becoming completely valueless within 20 or 30 years," the newspaper says. "When someone moves out of a home or dies, the house, unlike the land it sits on, has no resale value and is typically demolished."

A study has found that hospital admissions for asthma could be cut dramatically by lining streets with trees, the Daily Telegraph reports. "Researchers from the University of Exeter’s medical school studied the impact of urban greenery on the respiratory condition and say the results suggest planting trees could reduce the dangerous effects of traffic fumes," the newspaper says.

A north London borough will become the first local authority in Britain to introduce a borough-wide parking levy for all diesels, irrespective of the car’s age, The Times (subscription required) reports. It says that the surcharge will cost motorists £2 an hour on top of existing hourly fees.

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