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On June 8, Britain will go to the polling booths for a second General Election in just over two years. Theresa May surprised everyone when she announced the snap General Election in April (not least because she herself had previously ruled it out), but since then the party political machines have launched into action and MPs across the country have been out and about in their constituencies, trying to win over voters.
It's been billed as the ‘Brexit election’, but domestic issues are also likely to take equal precedence in most people's minds, in particular health, education, public services, defence, security, social care and housing. The choice for the next Prime Minister is a direct one between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, but Tim Farron and the Liberal Democrats – who have earmarked themselves as the party of Remain - will be looking to regain the ground they lost in 2015, while the SNP are once again set to dominate in Scotland.
We've had the slogans – ‘strong and stable leadership’, ‘for the many, not the few’, ‘a brighter future’ - the debates, the interviews and the launch of the manifestos, as all parties have ramped up their attempts to put their message across to the electorate.
What, though, do the main parties say when it comes to housing, one of the most important topics of recent major elections? We take a closer look...
The Conservative manifesto promises to ‘fix’ the dysfunctional housing market so there are affordable and secure houses for all. To do so, the party pledges to build enough new homes to meet demand, in turn lowering housing costs so ‘ordinary, working families’ can afford to purchase a home. Rental costs will also be reduced.
The party is still sticking to its 2015 manifesto commitment to build one million new homes by 2020, plus another 500,000 by the end of 2022. In addition, the proposals set out in the Housing White Paper – to free up more land for new homes, encourage more modern construction methods and increase the diversity of house-builders building Britain’s homes – will be enacted upon if the Conservatives win in June.
The new homes, the party insists, will be high-quality and won’t encroach on the Green Belt, National Parks or other protected areas.
Right to Buy (in England, at least) will continue, and there is nothing in the manifesto to suggest that flagship schemes such as Shared Ownership, Help to Buy, Starter Homes and the Lifetime ISA will be scrapped, although no further information is given on these particular initiatives.
Housing associations, meanwhile, will be given greater flexibility to increase their housing stock, while Build to Rent will also be given further backing.
The focus is on building sustainable, affordable and quality homes, to help reverse generations of insufficient housebuilding. Critics will point to a questionable record on housebuilding since 2010 and doubts over whether one million new homes will be built by 2020 (current figures suggest otherwise), but the Tories are talking bold on housing and will hope this swings enough voters towards them.
Promising ‘secure homes for all’, the Labour Party has pledged to succeed where it says the Conservatives have failed by fixing Britain’s housing crisis. Labour point to the fact that housebuilding is at its lowest level since the 1920s, while rents have risen faster than wages.
To fix this, Labour says it will invest in more than a million new homes. What’s more, by the end of the next Parliament it promises to build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year, which will be genuinely affordable to rent or buy.
A new Department for Housing will be established to tackle the housing crisis, with this new housing ministry tasked with improving the number of new homes, as well as ensuring they are affordable and of a decent standard. Councils will also be given new powers to build the homes required in their local communities.
Brownfield sites will be prioritised, while the party also promises to protect the Green Belt and avoid urban sprawl by building a new generation of New Towns. The building of new homes will be made a priority, with the National Transformation Fund bringing more skilled workers into the construction industry.
Energy-efficient homes will be high on the agenda, while consultation will take place on new rules for minimum space standards to stop the growth of ‘rabbit hutch’ properties.
In addition, the Land Registry will be kept in public ownership, first-time buyers will be backed with more low-cost homes on offer, Help to Buy funding will be guaranteed until 2027 and local people will be given ‘first dibs’ on new homes in their area.
As for private renters, controls will be introduced on rent rises, secure tenancies will be prioritised, extra landlord licensing will be introduced and there will be new consumer rights for tenants. What’s more, Right to Buy would be suspended, rising homelessness would be tackled and the bedroom tax would be scrapped.
Again, the Lib Dems focus on fixing Britain’s housing crisis – addressing the supply/demand imbalance and building the homes the country needs. To do so, the party would launch an ambitious housebuilding programme where 300,000 new homes would be built a year – nearly double the current amount. Half a million affordable, energy-efficient homes would be built by the end of the parliament.
In addition, at least 10 new Garden Cities would be created in England, a government-backed British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank would be set up and voluntary Right to Buy would be ended. Meanwhile, a new Rent to Own scheme would be launched to help those struggling with deposits, and lettings fees for tenants would be banned. A Help to Rent scheme would also be created to help young people in the rental market, while new homes would have to be advertised in Britain first before developers advertise them abroad.
Longer tenancies would be promoted, rogue landlords would be clamped down on with more mandatory licensing and ‘the scandal’ of rough sleeping would be ended.
Whatever happens in a few weeks’ time, things are likely to remain busy for estate and lettings agents regardless. Despite ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and the election, the property market has showed it slows down for no-one and is taking a business as normal approach to proceedings.
To help you keep on top of things as the busy summer period approaches, you need everything to be working in complete harmony. At Gnomen we provide exactly that, with our property software enabling you to run every aspect of your business seamlessly, from anywhere in the world.
Our cloud-based system means you can manage your staff, office, customers and multi-channel marketing in one place, at any time of the day and night.
So, whatever the election result, you can rest assured that your property software is working correctly. If that wasn’t enough, we also create websites that both look and work beautifully.
For more information about what we do, please call us on 0208 123 9019. To book a free demo, click here.
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