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Conservatives vs Labour on Housing

28/04/15
Conservatives vs Labour on Housing
There are only 9 days until the General Election, and the political parties are battling it out on all fronts and topics, hoping to secure those all-important votes. One topic which has been at the forefront over the last few days is that of housing.

On the eve of the most uncertain election in several years, Labour and the Conservatives have outlined what their respective governments would do for the sector, should they be elected. Both parties have framed their policies to help first-time buyers and those renting properties, and have also pledged to build vast amounts of houses to help deal with the UK’s housing crisis.

The Conservatives
The Conservatives will extend the ‘right to buy’ for 1.3 million families living in housing association properties. These tenants will be offered a discount on their property, which will be capped at just over £102,700 in London and £77,000 for the rest of England.

The Conservatives have also pledged to build more homes that people can afford, including 200,000 new Starter Homes exclusively for first-time buyers under 40. These will be sold at 20% below the market price.

On top of this, the Conservatives will also build 275,000 more affordable homes by 2020. They will offer 10,000 new homes to rent at below market rates.

In addition, they will extend Help to Buy to cover another 120,000 homes – in total helping over 200,000 people. They will continue the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee until the start of 2017, and the Help to Buy equity loan until at least 2020.

Labour
Labour have pledged to exempt first-time buyers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from paying stamp duty when buying homes below £300,000, for three years. Ed Miliband has stated that this would benefit 9 out of 10 first-time buyers, saving them up to £5,000.

Another key area of Labour’s housing policy is rent control. Labour aim to make three-year tenancies the norm. They would cap rent over the standard three-year tenancies so they cannot rise by more than the CPI measure of inflation, while allowing scope for them to be reduced. Tenants will also have a legal right to know what the previous tenant paid to rent that property, which will put them in a stronger position to negotiate and minimise substantial rent rises.

The Conservatives are not alone in promising to build hundreds of thousands of houses. Labour have pledged to at least 200,000 homes a year will be built by 2020 through implementing recommendations of the Lyons Review (e.g. councils would receive ‘use it or lose it’ powers to encourage developers to build, which would ensure that planning permissions are implemented and reduce incentives for speculating on land).

Although this is an unpredictable election, what we do know is that regardless of the impact of the smaller parties in next week, either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will be Prime Minister. Hundreds of thousands of houses will be built, and first-time buyers and those renting properties will be helped – the question is under which government?

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