In Conversation With… Christine Whitehead

Professor Christine Whitehead

Professor Christine Whitehead

There’s a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors who we’re regularly in conversation with, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate – and here we share more about them, their roles, priorities and backgrounds. If you would like to feature in this series, or to suggest someone who might, please get in touch through our contact us page or let us know on twitter.

Why not take a lucky dip into our In Conversation archives and discover:

Today we speak with Christine Whitehead, Professor of Housing Economics at the London School of Economics.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m Professor in Housing in the Department of Economics at LSE and was for twenty years until 2010 the Director of the Cambridge Centre of Housing and Planning Research at Cambridge University.

I first worked on the private rented sector in the 1970’s when I was in the Department of Environment (what is now DCLG). My latest involvement has been a comparative study of regulation across eleven countries published last year

How did you get involved with the Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry into the private rented housing sector?

My first stint as specialist adviser to that Committee was on the role of the private rented sector in 1979/80. I assume that I was invited this time partly because of long experience and partly for the research on regulation mentioned above.

What effect did the financial crisis have on the housing sector?

Three main impacts – on the availability of credit ; on the subsequent recession; and thus on confidence – so the effects are on both supply (nearly halved) and demand – relatively very low. The growth of private renting is significantly an outcome of these factors although there are also longer term changes taking place.

What do you predict for the future of the housing sector?

Low levels of output for some years more; continuing growth in the Private Rented Sector – but if the economy does pick up there will be a partial shift back towards owner-occupation. And unhappily if the economy starts to grow increases in house prices in London and the South.

In the past you have published reports analysing the housing policies of various countries. Which country do you believe currently has the best approach?

Different countries have different strengths and weaknesses – what is good for any one country will not necessarily be applicable to another.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your role?

Maintaining funding for independent research.

Finally, do you have a favourite London landmark?

Probably St Pancras Station – but I am not really interested in landmarks – more neighbourhoods and London overall.

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