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What the Election Manifestos Mean for the Future of Housing

The main political parties have put forward their programmes of reform ahead of the general election.

An important element of which is the various parties’ commitment to resolving the nationwide issue surrounding the lack of affordable homes, referred to in the media as the ‘housing crisis’. This is of particular significance to those of us who operate within the property sector.

The headline statements are:

Labour –  Would build up to 100,000 social new homes and 50,000 “genuinely affordable homes” each year for the next 5 years of the new parliament. This “revolution” in housing policy is described as the biggest social housing commitment to increase the stock of council housing in over 6 decades. It is to be paid for from increased taxation and Government borrowing out of a £150Bn “social transformation fund”. There have been further announcements outside the manifesto to raise standards of housing within the private rental sector and ‘be tough’ on rogue landlords.

Conservatives – Are proposing to build 1,000,000 new homes across the open market, affordable and social sub-sectors. Another notable commitment is to end “no-fault evictions” in the private rental sector. £9Bn is earmarked for funding these policies to be raised through general taxation and borrowing.

Liberal Democrats –  Pledge to build 300,000 new homes each year as they aim to end “the national housing crisis”. One-third of these would be social housing funded from a £10Bn capital infrastructure pot. The social housing would be built to net-zero carbon standards. All under 30’s struggling to fund a deposit would be given access to government-backed loans.

The Green Party –  An emphasis on improving existing stock and ultra-efficient low carbon building technologies are features in plans to build 100,000 zero-carbon homes each year. A large proportion of these, similar to Labour’s and the LibDem’s proposals, would be in the social rented sector. There are commitments towards improving the quality of life through design and thinking about local green spaces, access to cycle ways and pedestrian access to shops and public transport.

Is there a common theme?

The answer appears to be “Yes”. All parties recognise the need to resolve the ‘housing crisis’ by building an increased number of affordable and more energy efficient homes. It seems that the policies pertaining to this also closely relate to mitigating climate change. Across the political spectrum there is a promise to become a zero-carbon emission industry, with the added benefit of reducing fuel costs, cutting energy bills and investing in renewable resources as a substitute for carbon based ones.

What are the main challenges?

Despite the recognition of the need to improve, progression towards solving the ‘housing crisis’ with the various policies put forward is minimal. There do not seem to be any solutions offered to solve inherent issues which working within the legal housing sector exposes, such as:

  • Obtaining implementable planning permissions swiftly;
  • Supply of skilled labour;
  • Securing finance;
  • Infrastructure delivery; and
  • Advancing off-site and modular technologies and skills to enable wider use and acceptance of these contributions towards increasing pace and volume of production of the new homes.

Closing thoughts

Considering these very significant numbers of proposed new housing, is it likely that we will reflect in a couple of years’ time on why these ambitious targets remain unachievable? If so could it be the failure to address the above challenges which inevitably perpetuate the same delays?

Stephen McColgan

Stephen McColgan

Consultant Solicitor

Stephen qualified as a solicitor over 33 years ago having studied law at Bristol University and  at what is now known as the University of Law in Guildford.

Read more about Stephen

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