Council House Waiting List in Biggleswade Drops by 78% in last 3 years

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Should you buy or rent a house?  Buying your own home can be expensive but could save you money over the years.  Renting a property through a letting agent or private landlord offers less autonomy to live by your own rules, with more flexibility if you need to move.

Yet, there is a third way that many people seem to forget, but it plays an important role in the housing of Biggleswade people.  Collectively known as social housing, it is affordable housing, which is let by either Central Bedfordshire District Council or a housing association to those considered to be in specific need, at rents below those characteristic in the private rental market.

In Biggleswade, there are 1,072 social housing households, which represent 15.50% of all the households in Biggleswade.  There are a further 741 families in the Central Bedfordshire District Council area on their waiting list, which is similar to the figures in the late 1990’s. The numbers peaked in 2013, when it stood at 3,371 families, so today’s numbers represent a drop of 78%.

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Nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean that more families are being supplied with their own council house or housing association property.  Six years ago, Westminster gave local authorities the authority to limit entitlement for social housing, quite conspicuously dismissing those that did not have an association or link to the locality.

Interestingly, the rents in the social rented segment have also been growing at a faster rate than they have for private tenants.  In the South Bedfordshire District Council area, the average rent in 1998 for a council house / housing association property was £200.94 a month.  Whilst we have no up to date figures, because of the ‘Large Scale Voluntary Transfer’ of all or most of the local authority’s stock was transferred to a Private Registered Provider sector, so the average rent is no longer applicable.  Therefore, using the average rent increase for England of 108% (England’s average rent being £183.08 a month in 1998 and £381.03 a month today) we can guesstimate an average of approximately £415.

When comparing social housing rents against private rents, the stats don’t go back to the late 1990’s for private renting, so to ensure we compare like for like, we can only go back to 2005.  Over the last 12 years, private rents have increased nationally by a net figure of 19.7%, whilst rents for social housing have increased by 59.1%.

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What does this all mean for the homeowners, landlords and tenants of Biggleswade?

Rents in the private rental sector in Biggleswade will increase sharply during the next five years.  Even though the council house waiting list has decreased, the number of new council and housing association properties being built is at a seventy year low.  The government crusade against buy-to-let landlords together with the increased taxation and the banning of tenant fees to agents will restrict the supply of private rental property, which in turn using simple supply and demand economics, will mean private rents will rise.  This makes buy to let investment a good choice of investment again (irrespective of the increased fees and taxation laid at the door of landlords).  It will also mean property values will remain strong and stable as the number of people moving to a new house (and selling their old property) will continue to remain restricted and hence, due to lack of choice and supply, buyers will have to pay decent money for any property they wish to buy.

Interesting times ahead for the Biggleswade property market!

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Should the 3,023 home owning OAP’s of Biggleswade be forced to downsize?

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This was a question posed to me on social media a few weeks ago, after my article about our mature members of Biggleswade society and the fact many retirees feel trapped in their homes.  After working hard for many years and buying a home for themselves and their family, the children have subsequently flown the nest and now they are left to rattle round in a big house.  Many feel trapped in their big homes (hence I dubbed these Biggleswade home owning mature members of our society, ‘Generation Trapped’). Should we force OAP Biggleswade homeowners to downsize?

In the original article, I suggested that we as a society should encourage, through building, tax breaks and social acceptance that it’s a good thing to downsize. However, should the Government force OAP’s?

One of the biggest reasons OAP’s move home is health (or lack of it).  Looking at the statistics for Biggleswade, of the 3,023 homeowners who are 65 years and older, whilst 1,778 of them described themselves in good or very good health, a sizeable 963 home owning OAPs described themselves as in fair health and 282 in bad or very bad health.

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9.33% of Biggleswade home owning OAP’s
are in poor health

If you look at the figures for the whole of  Central Bedfordshire Council (not just Biggleswade), there are only 818 specialist retirement homes that one could buy (if they were in fact for sale).

There are 956 homes available to rent from the Council and other specialist providers (again, you would be waiting for dead man’s shoes to get your foot in the door).  Many older homeowners would not feel comfortable with the idea of renting a retirement property after enjoying the security of owning their own home for most of their adult lives.  My intuition tells me the majority ‘would be’ Biggleswade down-sizers could certainly afford to move but are staying put in bigger family homes because they cannot find a suitable smaller property.  The fact is there simply aren’t enough bungalows for the healthy older members of the Biggleswade population and specialist retirement properties for the ones who aren’t in such good health …

We need to build more appropriate houses in Biggleswade

The government’s   Housing White Paper, published recently, could have solved so many problems with the UK housing market, including the issue of homing our ageing population. Instead, it ended up feeling annoyingly ambiguous. Forcing our older generation to move with such measures as a punitive taxation (say a tax on wasted bedrooms for people who are retired) would be the wrong thing to do.  Instead of the stick, maybe the Government could use the carrot tactics and offered tax breaks for down-sizers.  Who knows, but something has to happen?

Come to think about it,  the word ‘downsize’  is such an awful word.    I prefer to use the word ‘decent-size’ instead of ‘down-size’ as the other phrase feels like they are lowering themselves as though they are having to downgrade themselves in their retirement (and let’s be frank – no one likes to be downgraded).

The simple fact is we are living longer as a population and constantly growing with increased birth rates and immigration.  What I would say to all the homeowners and property owning public of Biggleswade   is more houses and apartments need to be built in the Biggleswade area, especially more specialist retirement properties and bungalows.  The government had a golden opportunity with the White Paper and were sadly found lacking.

A message to my Biggleswade   property investor readers, whilst this issue gets sorted in the coming decade(s), maybe seriously consider doing up older bungalows as people will pay handsomely for them be that for sale or even rent?  Just a thought!

 

6.82 Babies born for each new home built in the Biggleswade area

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As more babies are being born to Biggleswade and Central Bedfordshire mothers, I believe this increase will continue to add pressure to the over stretched Biggleswade property market and materially affect the local property market in the years to come.

On the back of eight years of ever incremental increasing birth rates, a significant 6.82 babies were born for every new home that was built in the Central Bedfordshire Council area in 2016.  I believe this has and will continue to exacerbate the Biggleswade housing shortage, meaning demand for housing, be it to buy or rent, has remained high.  The high birth rate has meant Biggleswade rents and Biggleswade property prices have remained resilient, even with the challenges the economy has felt over the last eight years, and they will continue to remain high in the years to come.

This ratio of births to new homes has reach one its highest levels since 1945 (back in the early 1970’s the average was only one and a half births for every household built).  Looking at the local birth rates, the latest figures show we in the Central Bedfordshire Council area had an average of 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.  Interestingly, the national average is 61.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 and for the region its 67.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

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The number of births from Biggleswade and Central Bedfordshire women between the ages of 20 to 29 are close to the national average, but those between 35 and 44 were much higher.  However overall, the birth rate is still increasing, and when that fact is combined with the ever-increasing life expectancy in the Biggleswade area, the high levels of net migration into the area over the last 14 years (which I talked about in the previous articles), and the higher predominance of single person households … this can only mean one thing … a huge increase in the need for housing in Biggleswade.

Again, in a previous article a while back, I said more and more people are having children as tenants because they feel safe in rented accommodation.  Renting is becoming a choice for Biggleswade people.

The planners and politicians of our local authority, central government and people as a whole need to recognise that with individuals living longer, people having more children and whilst divorce rates have dropped recently, they are still at a relatively high level (meaning one household becomes two households) … demand for property is simply outstripping supply.

The simple fact is more Biggleswade properties need to be built, be that for buying or renting.

Only 1.1% of the Country is built on by houses.  Now I am not suggesting we build tower blocks in the middle of Old Warden Park or Stod Fold Water Mill, but the obsession of not building on any green belt land should be carefully re-considered.

Yes, we need to build on brownfield sites first, but there aren’t hundreds of acres of brownfield sites in Biggleswade, and what brownfield sites there are, building on them can only work with complementary public investment.  Many such sites are contaminated and aren’t financially viable to develop, so unless the government put their hand in their pocket, they will never be built on.

I am not saying we should crudely go ‘hell for leather’ building on our Green Belt, but we need a new approach to enable some parts of the countryside to be regarded more positively by local authorities, politicians and communities and allow considered and empathetic development.  Society in the UK needs to look at the green belts outside their leisure and visual appeal, and assess how they can help to shape the way we live in the most even-handed way.  Interesting times!

 

Want to be a landlord in Biggleswade…?

Looking to invest in Biggleswade?

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