Housing Is Key Driver of Agendas in Election Warfare; the Country Is Set to Go to the Polls Next Month in the General Election. as the Political Parties Ramp Up Their Campaigns, Ian Mercer, Head of Development at Bruton Knowles in Birmingham, Looks at the Impact the Election Will Have on the Housing Sector

The Birmingham Post (England), April 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Housing Is Key Driver of Agendas in Election Warfare; the Country Is Set to Go to the Polls Next Month in the General Election. as the Political Parties Ramp Up Their Campaigns, Ian Mercer, Head of Development at Bruton Knowles in Birmingham, Looks at the Impact the Election Will Have on the Housing Sector


Byline: Ian Mercer

TRADITIONALLY, housing hasn't held the same electoral weight as economic policy, the NHS or education, for example, but it is a major issue, particularly in metropolitan areas where housing is in short supply. As a result, housing is making its way up the political agenda.

As well as the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Green parties have announced housing policies as part of their pre-election campaigns.

So, come May 7, what can we expect from whichever party or parties win the race to Number 10? Among the Conservatives' housing plans is a commitment to build 200,000 starter homes, to be designated affordable homes, for first time buyers by 2020. They will offer first-time buyers who are under 40 years old a 20 per cent reduction off the market rate, which the buyer would only have to hand back if they sell the property in the first five years.

The party has also pledged to bring forward a PS1bn Brownfield Regeneration Fund, with the aim of building 400,000 new homes on brownfield land by the end of the next Parliament. The fund will be open to local authorities to bid on in order to bring forward additional brownfield land for housing.

Labour, like the Conservatives, has also pledged to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020, whilst tackling the long-standing problems in the housing market that have caused a decline in construction capacity.

The party wants to get the public sector building more properties and force private development companies that own land not to 'bank it' but get on and develop it by introducing "use it or lose it" powers.

It is also promising the biggest devolution of power to English city and county regions in a hundred years by introducing an English Devolution Act and transferring PS30bn of funding, including housing funding streams.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to build 300,000 news homes by 2020, while UKIP, like the Tories and Labour, has set its target at 200,000.

The most radical proposals are from the Green Party, which has set its stall out by pledging to build 500,000 social rented homes over the next five years, break up big builder cartels, scrap the Help to Buy scheme and replace Stamp Duty with a Land Tax. It will also let local authorities determine their own housing targets.

This is all very well and good. However, all of the parties' pledges ignore the fact that 80 per cent of house building is done by private companies, which politicians have no control over. …

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Housing Is Key Driver of Agendas in Election Warfare; the Country Is Set to Go to the Polls Next Month in the General Election. as the Political Parties Ramp Up Their Campaigns, Ian Mercer, Head of Development at Bruton Knowles in Birmingham, Looks at the Impact the Election Will Have on the Housing Sector
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