The UK goes to the polls on Thursday, June 8 to elect a new government whose first task will be to negotiate our exit from the European Union.
But away from Brexit one of the biggest issues of the election is housing. According to the National Housing Federation, a recent survey of British Social Attitudes reveals that what it calls the housing crisis argument is a major issue for the public. The federation wants housing – increasing supply, investing in regeneration, making property for more affordable and sustainable – to be a priority for the incoming government.
So what do each of the three main political parties vow to do for housing in their general election manifestos?
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Conservatives: ‘Fixing the dysfunctional housing market’
The Conservative Party’s manifesto claims that, in power, the party will building a million homes by 2020 and another 500,000 by 2022. It states: “We have not built enough homes in this country for generations, and buying or renting a home has become increasingly unaffordable. We will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future.”
It also promises to reform compulsory purchase to make it easier for councils to buy derelict land that developers are sitting on; encouraging a wider range of developers, including social housing providers, with greater flexibility offered to housing associations; and halving rough sleeping by 2027 with the ambitious aim to eliminate it entirely by 2027.
Labour: ‘Backing first-time buyers’
The Labour Party manifesto says it will establish a new Department for Housing to “focus on tackling the crisis and to ensure housing is about the many, not investment opportunities for the few.”
Its pledges include building more low-cost homes specifically for first-time buyers; guaranteeing Help to Buy funding until 2027; protecting leaseholders from rises in “ground rent”; and allow councils to embark on a house-building programme and suspend right-to-buy until councils can replace homes on a like-for-like basis.
Liberal Democrats: ‘Target of 300,000 homes a year’
The Liberal Democrat manifesto describes the housing situation in the UK as an “emergency” and said: “That is why we have set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of housebuilding to 300,000 a year… These new houses must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure.”
Other policy offers include creating at least 10 new Garden Cities in England to provide thousands of zero-carbon homes with gardens and shared green space; establish a government-backed bank to finance house-building projects; end right-to-buy for housing association homes; and penalise developers who sit on land with planning permission.
Polling stations for voting in the general election open on Thursday, June 8 at 7am and close at 10pm.