All of the main political parties recognise that Britain is suffering from a severe shortage of housing and most developers are chomping at the bit to get building but will they be supported by whichever political party/ies wins the forthcoming General Election?
Trawling through the manifestos and listening to ongoing rhetoric is an arduous task, so in the run up to the General Election we provide a brief outline of the pledges on housebuilding from each of the main political parties.
Starting with the party currently holding the balance of power, over the next five years the Conservatives propose to:
- Extend the Right to Buy scheme to Housing Association tenants; the scheme is currently only available to tenants in local authority homes. Sold properties would be replaced by “requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.” If anyone can interpret exactly how the properties would be “replaced” in this sentence, please let me know.
- Create a Brownfield Fund which will “unlock homes on brownfield land for additional housing.” I’m not sure what this means either… However, looking outside the manifesto for an explanation, it seems that the Tories are proposing to put the proceeds of the extended Right to Buy scheme into the fund to enable councils to regenerate previously developed land, support infrastructure improvements and build cheaper homes on a one-to-one basis.
- Build 200,000 starter homes for first-time buyers aged under 40, at 20% discount.
- Build 275,000 additional affordable homes.
- Build 10,000 new homes to rent at below market rates in order to help people save up for a deposit to buy their own home.
- Double the number of custom-built and self-built homes. Unfortunately the manifesto does not provide any numbers for this pledge, so we don’t know what doubling means but in this regard, its new Right to Build scheme will require councils to allocate land to local people to build or commission their own home.
- Safeguard the Green Belt and important green spaces by allowing councils and neighbourhood plans to give added protection to valuable local green spaces.
- Support locally-led Garden Cities ensuring that any new homes are supported by adequate improvements in infrastructure. Within this pledge, the manifesto says that brownfield land will be used as much as possible and that local authorities will have to have a register of sites available. In addition 90% of “suitable” brownfield sites must have planning permission for housing by 2020. Of course, “suitable” can mean anything…
- Introduce a new Help to Buy ISA this coming autumn to help people save up a deposit for their own home. The scheme will allow would-be home-buyers to save up to £200 per month and the government will add 25% on top. An additional £1,000 can also be saved when first opening the account. It’s a bit like letting would-be home-buyers save for a deposit from pre-tax income as the 25% on top is equivalent to the tax a basic-rate taxpayer would pay.
5th May 2015