As the country prepares to vote on 8th June in the General Election, Waterfords take a look at manifesto plans to make homes more plentiful and affordable. The three main political parties are pledging to build over one million new homes by the end of the next parliament (2022) – that’s at least 200,000 new homes per year.
Building new Homes:
The Liberal Democrats are aiming for 300,000 new homes per annum. In 2016/2017 less than half of that was achieved at 147,900. The party is pledging to create at least ten new Garden Cities in England, providing tens of thousands of "high-quality new zero carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space".
The Conservatives say they will meet their commitment to "deliver a million homes by the end of 2020", plus 500,000 by the end of 2022. The focus will be on high-quality, high-density housing such as terraces, and it will uphold the protected status of green belt land, national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Labour would guarantee funding for the Help-to-Buy scheme until 2027. Brownfield sites will be prioritised and work will start on New Towns to prevent urban sprawl. The party says it will build thousands more low-cost homes for first-time buyers, as the number of home-owning households has fallen by 900,000 for under-45s since 2010.
All three political parties promise to encourage the building of affordable social housing. Only 18% of new homes completed in 2016/17 were social housing, compared to 15% in 2012. Labour would reintroduce Housing Benefit for those aged between 18 and 21, meaning those on a low income would get help towards paying their rent.
Meanwhile, the Green Party is pledging a push on affordable-home building, including 500,000 new social rented homes over five years. It also wants to bring empty dwellings back into use.
To streamline planning, Labour want to create a Department of Housing, while the Liberal Democrats would lengthen the life of a Local Plan to 15 years. The Conservatives deliver these reforms in their Housing White Paper and also mention freeing up land and speeding up the planning process.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledge to help the 20% of households who privately rent by improving tenant’s rights, securing three year tenancies as the norm. Labour would introduce inflation caps on rent rises to support tenants. The Liberal Democrats would promote their rent to buy model of home ownership, giving first time buyers a boost to get on the ladder.
Are these pledges achievable?
Brendan Cox, Waterfords Managing Director, comments:
“With only 32,000 affordable homes built in 2016, the parties should consider whether these pledges are even remotely possible. One thing we can all recognise is that we are simply not building enough homes to meet the demand from the sales and rented sector. It is imperative that the next government build the right sort of homes in the areas that need them for people across all tenures. The main issue is ensuring first time buyers can get on the ladder. This will then have a positive knock on effect on other areas of the housing market and provide some relief to the crisis that the housing market has been suffering."
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