Could the election help beat the housing crisis?

Experts believe that pledges in political manifestos for the general election could start to help to beat Britain’s chronic housing problem if they are put into practice

In the fight to capture votes in the election, both the Conservative and Labour parties are proposing a string of measures to give first-time buyers more of a chance to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

Less likely

Research by the Resolution Foundation claims young people are less likely ever to own their own home than previous generations.

The Conservative plan to change that is to introduce a new mortgage with long term fixed rates and a deposit of just 5%.

This would be backed by a new scheme to offer 30% discount on new homes in their area.

First dibs

Labour wants to give first-time buyers ‘first dibs’ on new property in their area and plan to review the highly successful Help To Buy policy which is due to end in 2023.

The scheme currently offers buyers an interest free equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of new build homes in an attempt to beat the affordability hurdle faced by so many young couples.

Renting

All the major parties have offers based on renting rather than buying a home.

The Tories have promised a scheme to allow renters to switch their deposit from their existing property to a new one which would remove one of the biggest obstacles to swapping home.

Currently renters are often asked to find a deposit for their new home before their existing landlord releases the cash he holds.

Cap

Labour has announced it will cap rent prices in line with inflation and introduce open-ended tenancies.

Plans have also been outlined for an annual ’property MOT’ to ensure properties meet minimum standards.

The Liberal Democrats have announced their plans for a new Help To Rent scheme which would allow first-time renters under 30 to apply for a loan to raise the deposit for their first home.

Affordable homes

But the biggest problem faced across the country is the shortage of supply of affordable homes.

In January a cross-party committee of MPs suggested 3 million new affordable homes need to be built over the next 20 years – more than were built in the 20 years following World War 2.

Official figures show more than a million households are on council waiting lists and though the number of new affordable homes built in the UK was up by 22% last year it is not nearly enough to resolve the problem.

Different approaches

Labour and Conservative have two completely different approaches to the same problem.

Labour’s manifesto promises 100,000 new council homes a year and another 50,000 affordable homes built by housing associations.

The Conservatives are looking to boost private housebuilding, offering a million homes over five years and an overhaul of the planning system to make it easier for developers to get new schemes off the ground.

The Lib Dems was another 300,000 homes a year by 2024 and the Greens want an extra 100,000 new council homes a year.

Problem

But the construction industry has warned there is a problem in meeting any of these targets – a massive shortage of skilled workers.

In August the industry reported a major recruitment crisis with more than 168,500 new workers needed over the next five years.