As Britain heads towards another election, one of the hot topics up for discussion is the housing market. In fact, research shows that housing has become one of the key issues in the national May elections.
High housing prices have re-shaped the housing market which has in turn doubled the portion of people who rent and made it extremely difficult for young people and first time buyers to get on the property ladder. The housing “crisis” is a matter of supply and demand. In order for the current demand to be met, we would need to build around 245,000 homes a annum in England alone, however in recent years only half of this has been built.
Whilst the crisis affects different area’s of Britain differently, in London, the combination of high rents and high house prices are displacing poorer households.
Thus with the election pending, many are turning to politics to see how the parties propose to tackle this issue over the next four years. Here is what some of the major political parties are promising:
The Conservative Party:
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party plans to expand a “Right to Buy” programme. This will allow people living in social housing to purchase their homes at a discount.
Under the plans, social housing providers will build new homes which would be let at below-market rates to young people for a minimum of seven years. This will allow them to use the discounted rent to save for a deposit. After a minimum seven years the tenant will then be given the opportunity to buy the home or move out.
Moreover, 100,000 starter homes will be built and offered to first-time buyers (under the age of 40) at a discount of 20% if the Conservatives were to win the next election.
Labour promise to get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020. This will close the gap between the number of homes built and the number of homes needed, as well as providing up to 230,000 jobs in construction.
When discussing how they will tackle the housing issues, Labour adds: “We will unblock the supply of new homes by giving local authorities ‘use it or lose it’ powers over developers who hoard land that has planning permission so that they can sell it on for a bigger profit, instead of building on it now”.
Labour also says it will legislate against excessive rent increases, make three-year tenancies standard and ban unfair letting agent fees.
Junior coalition partners in the current government, the Liberal Democrats have set a goal of building 300,000 homes a year, in part by creating 10 new towns.
The Lib Dems commit to empowering local authorities to create new garden cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods where there is local demand.
They also plan a “Rent to Own” policy in which monthly payments steadily buy a stake in tenants’ homes, and will introduce a “Help to Rent” tenancy deposit scheme to help young people move into their first property.
The UK Independence Party
The right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) plans to force local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and charge higher local taxes on owners of homes that are empty for two years.
Ukip intends to protect the greenbelt whilst building a million homes on previously developed land by 2025.
Nigel Farage says there is plenty of brownfield land to build on and they would not allow the construction of homes on green belt land.
UKIP also plans to plough revenues from “Right to Buy” sales into new community housing. It will prevent non-British citizens from accessing the “Help to Buy” scheme.
The Green Party
The Green Party says it will build 500,000 new social homes (by 2020) to rent and increase the social housing budget to 6 billion pounds a year from 1.5 billion pounds at present.
It also wants to bring 350,000 empty homes back into use and scrap the government’s “Help to Buy” scheme, arguing it fuels excessive demand.
The Green party also intend to cap rent and introduce 5-year tenancies. They also wish to abolish the right to buy council homes.
Whilst housing is evidently key in this year’s political agenda, the rest is down to you. Register to vote and have your say, on how you’d like the housing crisis to be tackled. The United Kingdom general election of 2015 will be held on 7 May 2015.