Government 'must ditch indifference to state intervention to solve housing crisis'

A call for the government to ditch its 'indifference' to state intervention to help tackle the housing crisis features in today's newspaper round-up.

As part of its ongoing special investigation into "rogue landlords", a leader column in The Guardian says that "ministers need to change their mindset to address widespread market failures". It says: "We need to stretch the vocabulary of the politically feasible in housing, because politicians in power have no ideas of their own worth hearing."

As part of its investigation, The Guardian reports that "a Liverpool tower block that had more housing prosecutions in 2017 than any other building was 80 per cent owned by international investors, some of whom were banking publicly funded rents while subjecting tenants to potential danger from hazardously low temperatures".

In a letter to The Times (subscription), Matt Thomson, head of planning at countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England, says that "high housing targets, imposed on councils, have backed them into a corner". He says that this "has led to speculative development, forcing councils to allow developers to build what they like. The result has been poorly designed, low density, off-the-shelf housing estates, devoid of character."

The Guardian reports that "Debenhams has confirmed plans to shut up to 50 stores, nearly a third of the UK-wide chain, putting up to 5,000 jobs at risk". The paper says that the "struggling department store also unveiled a near £500m annual loss as it writes off the value of its brand and the cost of unwanted shop leases and IT systems".

Writing in The Times Conservative MP Priti Patel calls for the Tories to do more to "empower and free people to become homeowners and enjoy the security that brings". She writes: "What we need now is some strong leadership from the government, a clear commitment to re-establishing a property owning democracy".

The Times reports that "a fracking company caused four minor earthquakes yesterday, bringing to ten the number recorded at its site in Lancashire since it began operating last week". The paper says that "the largest of the tremors, none of which were felt at the surface, happened at 2pm at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool. It measured 0.48 on the Richter scale, just below ‘red’ on the traffic-light system for preventing serious quakes caused by fracking. At 0.50, fracking must temporarily stop and pressure in the well must be reduced."

The Times reports that a study has found that people who live in the most deprived parts of the country "are almost twice as likely to die early as those in the most affluent". The paper says that "researchers calculated the places with the most ‘years of life lost’ by comparing the age at which people died with their life expectancy. In Blackpool — Britain’s most deprived local authority — 14,274 years of life were lost for every 100,000 people. In Wokingham, the most affluent, only 6,888 years were lost."

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