Have you decided who to vote for in the general election yet? Does the state of the housing market matter to you? Maybe not – but to millions in the UK it is a very real issue and one which is receiving scant attention from politicians at present. For those of you sitting comfortably in your homes reading this you may think all is rosey, but maybe you should think again because a very big problem is lurking just round the corner. Not only could this affect your children or grandchildren but also has much wider implications for social cohesiveness in our society and its effects on crime, poverty and employment.
One of the primary duties of every government is to ensure everyone as a roof over their head. But successive governments have failed miserable and we still have a staggering 250,000 homeless people many sleeping on our streets every night and many more living in totally unsuitable bedsits and hotel accommodation. Surely this is a national disgrace and inexcusable for one of the wealthiest countries in the world. But the effect of this goes wider House prices are rising again at meteoric rates making it increasingly an un attainable dream for many of our young people to even begin to own their own home. Rising prices and a severe shortage of housing is not only affecting the owner market – rental prices are also rocketing , made worse by increasing taxation and burdensome legislation on landlords with a result many can’t even afford to rent decent accommodation and those that can have no money left to save for a deposit to buy. Latest estimates suggest that today we need an extra 1.5 MILLION new homes! So what are the political parties proposing to do about it.
I would urge all of you to think about what sort of society you want to live in? A divided one where there are haves 9property owners) and have nots or a more inclusive and fairer society. But which party will be able to deliver? To help you here is a summary of the proposals in the manifestos of the major parties.
- To build a million new homes between 2015 and 2020 in total, and another 500,000 by 2022
- Compulsory purchase will be reformed,making it easier for councils to buy up derelict land
- A promise of new social housing- but no set number, no timescale, no new funding, possibly financed by selling to City hedge funds after 10 years
- A pledge to halve rough sleepingby 2022 and ‘eliminate it altogether’ by 2027
- A new Department for Housingwill try to reverse historic failure
- Build over 1 million new homes including 100,000 council and housing association homeswill be built every year
- The current sell-off of existing social housingwill be suspended
- 4,000 new homes for people with history of rough sleeping
- Rent hikes will be capped at inflationand more secure three-year tenancies offered
- Developers will be told to build “zero carbon” buildings
- Four million homes will be insulatedand 0%-interest loans offered to homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements
- Locals to get ‘first opportunity’on buying new homes in their area
- A Help to Rent schemewill provide government-backed loans to let people raise a deposit
- 4 million homes will be insulatedby 2022
- Direct spending on housebuildingwill create 300,000 homes a year by 2022
- 10 new garden cities in Englandwill be stuffed with ‘zero-carbon’ homes
- Pilots of the right to buy for housing associationswill end
- Council tax on second and empty homeswill be double the usual rate