Parties Lay the Foundations of Housing Policies

Housing is an issue that has made its way back into the political spotlight over the last 10 days after the Chancellor announced his intention to speed up developments on brownfield sites in his Mansion House speech on 12th June. The Treasury will provide £400 million in an attempt to get an extra 200,000 new homes built by 2020, covering 90% of brownfield land owned by local authorities. This is the latest in a series of government policies pursued over the last 4 years to try to stimulate house building. Initiatives such as the Affordable Homes Programme have seen some progress, but the number of new homes is still below what is required.

All parties now recognise the importance of building new homes, and we should expect to see much more of the parties competing with each other on housing policy over the next 10 months. For the Conservatives, the success of the Help to Buy scheme and its extension until 2020 will be the cornerstone of their offer. Labour has ambitiously promised 200,000 new homes a year between 2015 and 2020, and its Housing Review, chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, is due to report with further policy recommendations in September. The Liberal Democrats are said to be aiming even higher at 300,000 new homes a year.

Such bold policies on building new homes from Labour and the Lib Dems are certainly some distance from where we are now; there is probably about as much chance of England going all the way in the World Cup as there is of managing to build 300,000 homes a year from next May. They do, however, reflect both the importance the parties place on this issue and the depth of need there is for more housing in Britain: according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, there will be an increase of 232,000 households every year in Britain until 2033. As the general election draws ever closer, housing is certain to be at the centre of the political stage as the parties clamour to offer radical policies that will address the need for new homes.

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