With the general election this week, we’re taking a look at the three main parties’ housing proposals. All are promising initiatives to alleviate pressure on prices, although whether any will be enough to address the fundamental imbalance between supply and demand remains to be seen. This shortage of supply, especially in London and the South East has fuelled the dramatic house price growth over the last twenty years, especially in London.

Perhaps what is needed is for the position of housing minister to return to being a cabinet post with its own department, as it was from 1951-1970 (the Ministry of Local Government and Housing), rather than being part of Communities and Local Government as it is today. Although we are unlikely to see a return to the large-scale government house building programmes of the post-war period, giving the housing minister a seat at the cabinet table would indicate a commitment to resolving what is generally accepted is a ‘broken’ housing market.

The parties’ main proposals are:

Conservative

  • Stabilise house prices by building 1.5m new homes by 2022
  • Reform Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO’s), to allow councils better access to land that could be built on
  • Encourage landlords to offer long tenancies as standard & increase security of tenure for “good tenants”
  • Provide funding to selected “ambitious, pro-development councils” to build council housing stock
  • Give housing associations greater flexibility to increase their housing stock

Labour

  • Build 1m homes by the end of the parliament, through a newly established Department for Housing
  • Guarantee the funding for the Help to Buy scheme – which ended in 2016 – until 2027
  • Make three-year tenancies “the norm”
  • Build 100,000 new council homes and Housing Association homes across the UK
  • Cap rent rises at the rate of inflation

Liberal Democrats

  • Build 300,000 homes a year by the end of their term, in part by allowing councils & Housing Associations to borrow more
  • Create £5bn of funding through a newly set up British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank
  • Give local authorities the power to fine those holding onto land that could be built on
  • Promote longer tenancies with an inflation-linked annual rent increase
  • Introduce a Help to Rent scheme to provide loans to help first-time renters under 30 with a deposit
  • Ban lettings fees for students
Housing has become  a key issue in the 2015 General Election

Housing has become a key issue in the 2015 General Election

As the Conservative Party and the Labour Party launch their manifestos, it is clear that housing has become a key policy in the 2015 General Election.

The question of affordability for a generation of aspiring homeowners has put the problem of home ownership firmly at the centre of the political agenda. Leaders Ed Miliband and David Cameron are both keen to point out that solving the UK’s housing crisis will be a key part of their term.

At the launch of the Labour Manifesto yesterday, Mr Miliband made clear that his party would put the interests of working people ahead of vested commercial interests, promising to raise the minimum wage to more than £8 by 2020 and requiring the wealthiest in society to pay more in tax.

This would include the so called ‘Mansion Tax’ on properties worth over £2m, which Mr Miliband says will bring in a significant proportion of the £2.4bn of funding they have pledged for the NHS.

Other housing policies Labour have drawn up include a pledge to build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and greater protection for tenants by introducing a ‘ceiling’ on rent rises and introducing guaranteed three year tenancies.

Current Prime Minister Mr Cameron is set to put forward his pledge on housing at the launch of his party manifesto in Swindon this morning.

Mr Cameron will make clear that a Conservative government will extend the ‘Right-to-Buy’ scheme, enabling up to 1.3m housing association tenants to buy their own home at a discount. The move would be funded by new rules forcing councils to sell properties ranked in the most expensive third of their type in the local area, once they become vacant.

The Conservatives say every house purchased will be replaced “on a one-for-one basis” with more affordable homes and no-one will be forced to leave their home.

The party said 15,000 homes would be sold and replaced every year as a result, and that the proceeds would also cover a fund to help councils bring derelict land back on brownfield sites to use.

Mr Cameron will say 400,000 new homes would be built over five years as a result and that “the dream of a property-owning democracy is alive”.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is set to launch his party manifesto tomorrow.