Labour? Lib Dems? Conservatives? Whose property and housing policies should you vote for?

publication date: Mar 26, 2010
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author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Labour? Lib Dems? Conservatives? Whose property and housing policies should you vote for?


With the election a matter of weeks away, it is amazing that so little information about housing policies and plans has been given by each of the parties.

Below are the key housing policies that the political parties are looking to follow post the election. However, be warned, there is nothing particularly exciting about the ideas and in fact I’m not impressed with the lack of detail and policies that each of the parties have put forward.

Hopefully as the election looms closer each party will offer more details about their policies and we’ll be able to analyse who has the best policies for you, whether you are a first time buyer, trading up or down, or looking to rent long term.

Current Policy Expectations

So far, all three parties seem to have similar ideas, some giving more information about their policies than others:-

Rid the UK of Empty Homes
Although a policy that has been used by many politicians, the Liberals are the most active giving a target of bringing back to life the 250,000 of the 1 million empty homes in the UK, which they claim will help create 65,000 new jobs.

Will it work? Unfortunately it’s much easier to say than do. The government doesn't own the homes, so they’ll need to persuade people to sell them or renovate them. That can take months or years to do and could incur substantial legal costs if the owner does not want to do anything. Apart from that, we need in the future, millions of homes, not a quarter of a million, so even if they achieve it, it won’t have a huge impact across the country or on supply.

Improving Energy Efficiency
Both the Labour and Conservative parties are offering loan schemes, although the Labour policy announced in the last few weeks seems very similar to the one the Conservatives announced last year!

Increase the Supply of Affordable Homes
All parties recognise the need for more homes, particularly those that are affordable. Labour are looking to continue to expand the housing stock with affordable schemes and brownfield sites, all achieved by centralising planning decisions.  Their plans are ambitious and require substantial funding and help from the private sector, all of which will prove very difficult with the huge debt mountain we are facing.
  
The Conservatives are looking at a different approach to expanding our housing stock and are suggesting that local people have a lot more influence on planning decisions, looking at ‘pre-application meetings’ with communities and  getting rid of section 106 agreements (private developers having to build affordable homes). The fear from the building sector is that this will lead to fewer planning applications being accepted and a fall in the number of affordable homes being built.

In contrast, the Liberals seem to concentrate their policies on more affordable homes for rural areas (and they are needed); stopping second home ownership and reducing VAT on repair and renovations. As with the Conservatives, they aim to give control to local authorities for planning decisions.

On the other hand, all parties are looking to release public sector land to ‘community land trusts’ for affordable homes, but if planning is given to local communities, will that mean more people objecting or a better ‘working’ relationship between people, developers and planners?

Private Rental Sector
Currently a sector that is now over regulated by Labour. But not great news if the Conservatives get in either as they plan to do yet another ‘review’. No one political party really seems to understand the importance of the PRS sector and how much it needs to be encouraged to grow and expand, working closely with local authorities and housing associations to ensure good quality affordable living is provided for those that aren’t able to buy.

Possible Eradication of Stamp Duty for First Time Buyers?
Hopefully something that the Conservatives will bring in if they get into government as they seem to be the only party to offer something concrete for first time buyers to help them on the ladder. A good idea and definitely something all parties should adopt.

NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH ******  OOPS LABOUR PIPPED THE CONSERVATIVES TO THE POST ON THIS ONE!  ****** NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH


So who should you vote for on property policies alone (this IS somewhat tongue in cheek!)

Conservatives
Property investors and homeowners who are hoping for property prices to rise.

Labour
For those looking to rent (you’ll have so much power!!), affordable home buyers and help during the credit crunch to avoid repossession.

Liberal Democrats
If you are in a rural area and want your family to be able to stay in the ‘village’ and get rid of empty homes nearby. Especially Lib Dems if you want to protect your area from second home ownership.

The Eco Vote
All parties have good and fairly similar Eco plans for housing, so it doesn’t, at this stage, seem to matter which party to go for, unless of course you want to vote for the Green Party!

Let us know what you think about the housing policies of the parties!

What would you like to see as part of the parties housing policies?

Contact us or tel 0845 838 1763 and let us know.


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