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Independent to launch new cut-price national daily

Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, will take on the additional duty of editing i.

Alexander Lebedev is to launch a cut-price daily national newspaper next Tuesday aimed at the quality market.

The paper, called i, will launch as a spin-off version of The Independent with a cover price of just 20 pence targeting "readers and lapsed readers of quality newspapers".

A statement from the owners of The Independent said this morning the new paper would aim to serve "those of all ages who want a comprehensive digest of the news in printed form.

"i will combine intelligence with brevity, and depth with speed of reading, providing an essential daily briefing."

The launch will be signalled with an outdoor advertising campaign created by Trevor Beattie of the BMB agency and coincide with a redesign of parent paper, The Independent, which will continue to sell for £1, the same price as The Guardian and The Times.

Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, will take on the additional duty of editing i.

Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of Independent Print Ltd who owns The Independent, said: "I am very proud to launch i, which will be the first quality daily paper to have launched in Britain since The Independent itself in 1986.

"My father [Alexander Lebedev] and I believe that a free press is a fundamental tool of a democracy, and we believe that newspapers still have a future, and a very important one.

"We have shown by our investment in the London Evening Standard that, even in these highly competitive times, it is possible to revive a brand, and we aim to do the same with The Independent by the launch of i and the improvements to the parent paper."

The launch comes after much speculation that The Independent would ape the Evening Standard - with which it shares and owner and a headquarters - by attempting to arrest its sales decline by going free in the capital. That would seem increasingly unlikely now.

Andrew Mullins, managing director of The Independent, said: "Quality newspapers provide a highly valuable audience for advertisers, but recently print circulations have been in decline and the average age of the audience has been increasing.

"Time-poor newspaper readers, and especially commuters, have been telling us for years that they are inundated with information and just don't have the time to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis.

"We are creating a newspaper for the 21st century that is designed for people who have a thirst for information and entertainment in the limited time that they have available. i is a reader-led newspaper with broad reach and intelligence."

The launch of the new paper follows The Independent trialling new formats earlier in the year. During the run-up to the general election the publisher gave away a slimmed-down version of The Independent as a number of London tube stations.

Kelner said: "With the launch of i, we are again doing something radical and new, creating a paper for today that retains the essential qualities of The Independent.

"Ever since The Independent launched, the paper has had a reputation for innovation and boldness and now we are creating the first post-modern newspaper, attractive to those who prize intelligence, convenience and desirability."


Oliver Luft is News Editor of Press Gazette.

Photo: Getty Images
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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.