General election 2017: Housing and the property market

General election 2017

How will the next government tackle the housing crisis?

Promises, promises.

The party manifestos are full of them. But what do they have to say about housing? And what will the impact be on the property market?

The big issue for all parties is new homes. The consensus is that the UK needs around 250,000 new homes every year to meet demand. But with only 140,660 built in 2016 there’s a long way to go before that target is met. Of course, all the manifestos promise a bright future with homes for all, but what about the numbers?

What the manifestos say

The Conservatives will “meet our 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020” as outlined in the Housing White paper earlier this year. In addition they will “deliver half a million more by the end of 2022.”

Labour will “invest to build over a million new homes. By the end of the next Parliament we will be building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale.”

The Lib Dems will “directly build homes to fill the gap left by the market, to reach our house-building target of 300,000 homes a year, through a government commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent. We will ensure that half a million affordable, energy-efficient homes are built by the end of the Parliament.”

Affordability

Of course, the problem isn’t just a lack of homes to buy. One of the most significant barriers to home ownership is high house prices. The UK House Price Index showed an annual increase of 4.1% in March (the latest month figures are available), bringing the average cost of a home to £215,848. While the rate of increase appears to have slowed, that’s not much comfort to someone struggling to save for a deposit. So how will the next government tackle this issue?

The Conservative manifesto doesn’t mention affordability specifically though it does say “we will build new fixed-term social houses, which will be sold privately after ten to fifteen years with an automatic Right to Buy for tenants, the proceeds of which will be recycled into further homes.” The Housing White Paper promised that they would “support people to buy their own home through Help to Buy and Starter Homes” and “help households who are priced out of the market to afford a decent home that is right for them through our investment in the Affordable Homes Programme.”

Labour will “build thousands more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers. We will guarantee Help to Buy funding until 2027 to give long-term certainty to both first-time buyers and the housebuilding industry. We will also give local people buying their first home ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area to give them confidence that new homes will be available to them and their families.”

The Lib Dems will “help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.”

What the smaller parties have to say

And what about the other parties? The Green Party promises “a major programme to build affordable, zero carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes each year by 2022.” They will also “end mass council house sales and scrap Right to Buy at discounted prices.” As for affordability, they will “help first-time buyers by aiming for house price stability – axing buy-to-let tax breaks, and backing community-led approaches to building affordable homes.”

UKIP has yet to publish their manifesto but they “oppose excessive housing development” and want to direct new housing to brownfield sites.

In Wales, the Plaid Cymru manifesto has little to say about housing but does promise it would “roll out a nationwide scheme to make the country’s housing stock more energy efficient.” A bill to abolish the Right To Buy scheme is currently going through the Welsh Assembly.

The SNP manifesto has not yet been released. But they have previously committed to build 50,000 homes in Scotland by 2021. They are also “investing £160 million in 2016-17 in schemes that will help 5,000 households buy a home.” The Right To Buy scheme ended in Scotland in 2016.

Whoever wins the election has a lot to live up to.

But if you’ve ever had to pay a hefty Stamp Duty Land Tax when you bought a property, you might want to vote for the one party that has committed to abolish it. The Monster Raving Loony Party says they will “cancel stamp duty…….stamps are expensive enough so we shouldn’t have to pay duty on them.”

 

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