Mortgage industry shows overwhelming support for Tories

The mortgage industry has overwhelmingly backed the Conservative Party with days to go until the general election.

A survey of over 900 readers taken by Mortgage Strategy shows 52.8 per cent will vote for the Tories on 7 May, with Ukip the closest rivals on 15.7 per cent.

Labour is in third place, on 14.7 per cent, followed by ‘other’ – which includes the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru – on 5.8 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 5.3 per cent and the Green Party on 5.2 per cent.

The results of our poll are markedly different from the voting intentions of the rest of the country (see table below). According to the BBC, which has created a ‘poll of polls’, as at 21 April the Conservatives and Labour were tied on 34 per cent, with Ukip, the LibDems and the Greens on 13 per cent, 9 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Commentators believe the Conservatives’ dominance in the Mortgage Strategy poll is due to the assumption that the party will be better able to manage the economy and concerns over some of the left-wing parties’ housing proposals.

Labour wants to introduce an annual mansion tax on homes worth over £2m and rent controls, both of which concern the mortgage industry, according to Association of Mortgage Intermediaries chief executive Robert Sinclair.

He adds: “I would think [the reason the Conservatives are so popular within the mortgage sector is] that most people think a mansion tax is very bad. I think they worry about where the left wing wants to go on buy-to-let.

“Any rational thinking person realises a tax on capital that is taken against income has to be wrong and flies in the face of all the work that has been done in the past 50 years. An asset tax has to be a point of asset transfer or death; it shouldn’t be on an ongoing basis. A hefty stamp duty on these properties is the appropriate way to go – that is how most people see it.”

John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says: “As the starting point for any party to be able to implement their policies, and not just on housing, is the strength of the economy, it is logical to expect the Conservative lead in the polls on economic competence to be more pronounced in a poll of mortgage brokers and lenders.”

The results are radically different from a similar poll run by Mortgage Strategy in June 2013. Back then, 61.6 per cent of the 980 readers who responded to the poll voted for Ukip, with the Conservatives and Labour trailing on 19.2 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively.

Sinclair says: “I think it is about timing. If you are in a European election phase, a lot of people might think Ukip is a broadly better place. The country is split right down the middle on Europe, in terms of for and against.

“It must be remembered that the Conservatives are the only party promising a referendum. That wasn’t their commitment when the last poll was taken, so this could have an effect on the results this time.”

All of the major political parties have pledged to increase housebuilding.

Alongside the Help to Buy Isa unveiled in the Budget, the Conservatives have promised to expand Right to Buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants. They would also build 200,000 homes for first-time buyers aged under 40 at 20 per cent discount and create a £1bn brownfield regeneration fund to unlock sites for 400,000 homes.

Labour plans to build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next parliament and would seek to prioritise local first-time buyers in new housing areas. It has also pledged to introduce three-year tenancy agreements and to cap rent rises.

The LibDems have pledged to increase housebuilding to 300,000 a year, including launching a new Rent to Own scheme targeted at reaching 30,000 new homeowners a year by 2020.

Ukip has promised to bring privately owned long-term empty homes back into use through a statutory duty on local authorities. The party would also seek to construct 1 million homes on brownfield sites over the next 10 years, providing grants of up to £10,000 for development and exempting brownfield sites from stamp duty on first sale.

Ukip would also prioritise social housing for people with parents born locally and limit Help to Buy access to British citizens.

Natalie Bennett’s Greens would seek to bring empty homes back into use and build 500,000 social rental homes over the next parliament. In addition, they would abolish Right to Buy on council homes.