5 Dec

general election

Homeward Legal’s guide to housing in the general election

For the first time in more than a century, the people of the UK will go to the polls to vote in a general election in December.

Thursday, December 12 is political V-day as the nation chooses which party it wants to govern for the next five years.

Naturally, Brexit is the dominating topic. However, the issue of housing remains a vital one for many voters.

According to recent research carried out for the National Housing Federation, around 8.4 million people in England alone live in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes.

Crucially, te problems with housing impact all age groups across the country, the group said.

What are the parties saying?

So, what do the political parties who want your vote say about housing in this general election?

What promises are they making, for example, to help young people buy a property for the first time? Is there an offer to make it easier for older homeowners to downsize? In short, what are they going to do make new homes affordable and sustainable?

Read Homeward Legal’s guide to the manifesto commitments on housing from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Brexit Party.

Conservatives

The Conservative manifesto states: “Home ownership is one of the most fundamental Conservative values.

“People are happier, more secure and rooted in their communities when they own their own home – and know that they can pass it on to future generations.”

Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Conservatives are making commitments in several areas of housing and indeed in the overall property market:

  • A new market in long-term, fixed-rate mortgages to reduce deposits to 5 percent and, as a result, make buying more affordable for first-time buyers.
  • Build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
  • Maintain the Right to Buy for all council tenants and the voluntary Right to Buy scheme with housing associations.
  • Extend Help to Buy until 2023.
  • Reform shared ownership to make it fairer and more transparent.
  • Continue the reforms to leasehold, including implementing the ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents to a peppercorn level and offer easier redress for leaseholders.
  • Bring in a Better Deal for Renters to abolish “no fault eviction” and create a fairer rental market for both renters and landlords.
  • Impose a 3 percent surcharge on stamp duty for overseas buyers.
  • £6.3 billion for environmental upgrades to homes, including grants for insulation and replacing old boilers.

Labour

The Labour Party’s 2019 manifesto for the general election states: “Everyone has the right to a decent, secure home. But too many people are being denied their right to a good home by our housing system that treats home as financial assets rather than places to live.”

Labour, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, wants to bring the cost of housing down while also raising building standards.

A key policy commitment is to create a new Department for Housing and form a new strategy for the construction sector.

Meanwhile, other promises on housing and property include:

  • Reform Help to Buy to focus on lower-income first-time buyers.
  • Give local people first opportunity to buy new-build homes locally.
  • £75 billion for 100,00 new council houses and 50,000 affordable housing association homes a year by 2024.
  • Upgrade existing homes to high energy standards by 2030.
  • Introduce a new zero-carbon home standards for all new-builds.
  • Abolish Right to Buy for council and housing association tenants.
  • Cap rent increases and end “no fault evictions” for private renters.
  • Introduce a levy on overseas companies buying housing.
  • Set up a new English Sovereign Land Trust with the power to buy land for low-cost housing.
  • End the sale of new leasehold properties and give leaseholders the right to buy their freehold at an affordable price.

Liberal Democrats

The 2019 Liberal Democrat manifesto notes: “We need to build 300,000 homes per year just to meet current demand but are barely building half that amount. Liberal Democrats… will oversee a substantial building programme to ensure everybody has a safe and secure home.”

The leader of the party, Jo Swinson, is spearheading an election campaign that promises to deal with the issues of unaffordable homes and failing infrastructure.

Their manifesto commitments include promises to:

  • Devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils.
  • Introduce a new Rent to Own model for social housing that gives tenants an increasing stake in their home.
  • Build 300,000 new homes every year, including 100,000 for social rent.
  • Build new houses to zero-carbon standards while cutting fuel bills to reduce fuel poverty.
  • Spend £15 billion over the lifetime of the next Parliament to retrofit insulation in 26 million homes.
  • Graduate stamp duty by the energy rating of the property.
  • Allow councils to increase council tax by up to 500 percent when property is bought as a second home.
  • Introduce a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing second homes in England.

Greens

The Green Party’s 2019 manifesto says: “We want to unleash a revolution that lifts up everyone. Our plan for a Green New Deal… will transform the UK… Green New Deal investment in housing will simultaneously reduce climate emissions, tackle fuel poverty and provide genuinely affordable housing.”

Under co-leaders Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry, the Greens have an ambitious agenda for this general election with the intention of improving the environment and reducing carbon emissions.

Its manifesto promises to:

  • Scrap the Help to Buy and Right to Buy programmes.
  • Empower local authorities to bring empty houses back into use to create 100,000 new zero-carbon homes for social rent every year.
  • Incentivise local authorities to spread small developments rather than large estates.
  • Improve the insulation of every home that needs it by 2030 with 10 million homes retrofitted.

Brexit Party

For the 2019 general election, the newly formed Brexit Party has no manifesto but instead has promised a contract: “Our Contract with the People is a targeted set of deliverable pledges. We are not seeking election as a government. We are seeking to deliver the Brexit that we were promises three and a half years ago.”

With its focus on Brexit, however, the party has not committed to a large number of pledges on housing. However, it does say there is a need to simplify planning and development to encourage small and medium-sized developers.

There is no direct offer on schemes for first-time buyers. Consequently, there is no pledge on improving affordability and on increasing the number of homes built every year.

However, its contract does pledge to:

  • Simplify planning consents for brownfield sites.
  • Make it easier for councils to borrow from central government to build council houses.
  • Allow more flexibility in the number of affordable homes in a development scheme.

•Voters can cast their vote from 7 am until 10 pm on December 12.

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