May 27, 2024

News and Political Commentary

Tories wrestle with failure to fix Britain’s housing crisis

2 min read

The Conservative party’s grip on office is loosening in part because of its failure to resolve Britain’s housing crisis after 14 years in power, leaving the government under pressure to improve its policy pitch to those most affected — younger voters. 

Despite the ruling party’s decades-old commitment to help people on to the property ladder, home ownership rates have stagnated over the past decade. The government has fallen short of its targets for new housing, while an era of low interest rates for most of the time since the Tories came to power in 2010, has exacerbated the rise in prices, making buying a property unaffordable for many.

The end last year of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which had been a totemic Conservative policy, has left Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in search of a new flagship housing initiative to appeal to would-be homeowners and boost his popularity with young people ahead of a general election expected later this year.

Only a tiny fraction of younger voters are likely to back the Conservatives, according to current polling. Recent research by YouGov showed that the Conservatives were only ahead of Labour among homeowners without mortgages — who tend to be older — while Labour has a strong lead among private renters, social renters and people with mortgages.

The Tories have “presided over a massive rise in the cost of housing for people renting or trying to buy a home since 2010, which has . . . fuelled an accusation from young people that they are living in a gerontocracy where they have been locked out of social mobility that their parents and grandparents felt entitled to,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London.

Sunak, chancellor Jeremy Hunt and housing secretary Michael Gove have at times been at odds over what policies to bring forward to try to boost home ownership levels, as the government prepares for the Budget on Wednesday. 

Gove has argued for cuts to stamp duty for…

2024-03-03 08:42:28

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