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general election

What’s on offer on housing in the general election

The issue of housing affordability has never been more pressing for Londoners. And it’s an issue many voters want to see addressed by political parties in next week’s general election.

The UK goes to the polls on Thursday, December 12 to elect a new government.

Much of the public debate has been around Brexit and when or if the UK eventually does leave the European Union.

Housing, however, is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes. The matter is particularly acute in London where house prices have risen faster and more steeply than anywhere else in the UK. Rents are also much more expensive while average salaries have stagnated or fallen back.

So, what solutions are the major parties offering in the 2019 general election?

We took a look through the manifestos of the three main parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat – to find out what they intend to do about housing and the property market in England.

Conservatives: Expanding Help to Buy

Having been in government since 2010 in coalition and alone, the Conservatives have already implemented housing policies such as Help to Buy and first-time buyer exemptions on stamp duty.

Their 2019 general election manifesto also promises:

  • To build 29k new homes with market rate discounts of 30 percent for local people who can’t afford to buy in their own neighbourhood.
  • Encouraging more long-term, fixed-rate mortgages that require only a 5 percent deposit.
  • Imposing an extra 3 percent stamp duty on overseas buyers.
  • More leasehold reform, including a ban on the sale of new-builds as leasehold and peppercorn ground rents.
  • Change planning rules to ensure infrastructure such as roads, schools and GP surgeries are built before new homes.

Labour: Change the property market

The 2019 Labour general election manifesto focuses more on private renters than on homeowners, first-time buyers and social renters.

However, the party does promise changes in how the property market operates. Its manifesto pledges include:

  • Building 50,000 homes for key workers aged 45 and under to be sold at a discount of 20-50 percent on market prices compared to local incomes.
  • Changing the focus of Help to Buy to favour first-time buyers on ordinary incomes and impose a higher threshold of earnings for those eligible for the scheme.
  • Impose higher taxers on homes bought by overseas companies and homes deliberately left empty.
  • Spent £250 billion on energy efficiency upgrades to almost 27 million homes by the 2030s.
  • Reform leasehold by stopping the sale of new-builds as leasehold, abolishing unfair fees and conditions.
  • Give leaseholders the right to buy their freehold at an affordable price.

Liberal Democrats: Focus on energy

There is no commitment in the Liberal Democrats‘ 2019 general election manifesto to any change to Help to Buy or reform of leasehold.

Instead the party’s commitments are on improving the energy efficiency of existing properties and ensuring new-builds are zero carbon.

The LibDems have also promised to:

  • Build 300k new homes a year by 2024, including 100k council and housing association homes.
  • Introduce a Rent to Own scheme so social tenants can increase their stake in a property until they own it outright.
  • Allow councils to raise council tax up to 500 percent on second homes.
  • Impose extra stamp duty on overseas buyers purchasing property in England.

Polling opens in the general election at 7 am on Thursday, December 12 and closes at 10 pm.

About the Author Frances Traynor

Fran is the content writer for Capital Conveyancing, producing articles on all aspects of the conveyancing process and around the UK property market in general. If there is a topic you'd like to see covered on these pages, please drop Fran a line on [email protected]

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