Both the Tories and the Labour Party have outlined in their respective manifestos how they plan to tackle England’s housing crisis, should they be successful in this month’s election.
For the Conservatives, Boris Johnson has promised to build at least a million homes over the next five years, while introducing new measures to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.
“We believe in home ownership. We think it’s the right way forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour is committed to the most extensive affordable housing scheme in more than 50 years, which will see at least 100,000 new council houses built by 2024.
“Many families are in sub-standard accommodation, paying huge amounts of money for it,” said Labour’s Angela Rayner, adding that the Labour Party would take more direct control of affordable housing in the UK.
Along with 100,000 new council houses, Jeremy Corbyn also promised to build a minimum of 50,000 “genuinely affordable homes” each year, which would be made available through local Housing Associations. Prices would also be adjusted on a regional basis across the UK, in accordance with average local incomes.
Labour’s pledge – which would result in the biggest social housing initiative being implemented since the 1960s – was welcomed by housing charity shelter. However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that if enacted, the new policy could “risk cannibalising what’s going in the private sector”.
Upping the Ante for Affordable Housing
Clearly a sticking point for votes heading into the December election, affordable housing has become a prime talking point for both primary political parties. Labour in particular has taken its affordable housing promise to the next level, having previously stated in 2017 that 100,000 council houses or housing association homes would be built each year. They have now stepped this up to 150,000 new homes annually.
Labour’s ambitious promise comes at a time of a growing skills shortage in the UK construction sector, making it difficult to see how these 150,000 affordable homes would be built each year. Such a project would call for an extensive programme of training or the recruitment of a small army of construction workers from overseas.
Over with the Conservatives, the Tory Party has stated that unlike Labour, it would not use public funds to build the promised one million homes over the next five years. Instead, initiatives and incentives would be introduced to motivate the private sector to build more affordable homes across England.
They also spoke of a new programme that would give first-time buyers looking to purchase a property in their area a discount of 30%.
“The Conservatives have always been the party of homeownership, but under a Conservative majority government in 2020 we can and will do even more to ensure everyone can get on and realise their dream of owning their home,” said Mr Johnson.
“At the moment renting a property can also be an uncertain and unsettling business, and the costs of deposits make it harder to move. We are going to fix that.”
Should the Liberal Democrats win at the December election, the party has promised to build 300,000 new homes in England within the next five years, which includes a minimum of 100,000 social homes.