Here’s a last-minute summary of the main parties’ policies on housing.
- Implement the Homelessness Reduction Act to halve rough sleeping
- Build 160,000 houses on government-owned land
- New “Council Housing Deals” with “ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing” which will be sold privately after 10 to 15 years with an automatic Right to Buy
- 4,000 additional homes available for people with a history of rough sleeping
- at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale
- Introduce controls on rent rises
- ‘Set in motion’ at least 10 new Garden Cities in England
- A new national Housingand Infrastructure Development Bank, to increase housebuilding to 300,000 homes a year
- End Right to Buy
- Tackle developers guilty of landbanking 3 years after planning consent
- Target ‘buy to leave’ homes with 200% council tax
- Build 100,000 social rental homes a year by 2020
- Introduce rent controls and ban letting fees
- End Right to Buy
- Introduce locally-made, factory-built modular homes
- Provide 100,000 homes for younger people
- Launch a review into operation of Housing Associations
The Conservatives initially set out with a positive plan to give ‘ambitious’ local authorities the chance to undercut developers for land and to form deals to develop social housing. However this plan has since been clarified that these homes would be built as ‘affordable’ rather than social rent which now infamously has come to mean they may be priced at 80% of market value. They would also be eligible for automatic Right to Buy after 10 or 15 years, a policy which Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens are all in favour of scrapping.
Given the break in Labour’s manifesto with the current economic model, the housing proposals could arguably have gone further, particularly on borrowing limits for local authorities. A plan to tackle homelessness is positive and target completion numbers are also highly optimistic.
The Lib Dems seem to be more motivated by individual elements of housing policy rather than an overarching political stance on the issue. It is notable that housing is classed alongside infrastructure and positive steps include addressing longstanding problems of landbanking. 300,000 homes a year however is highly ambitious and like many of these policies, prioritises numbers over quality for manifesto purposes.