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Politicians need to walk the walk on housing: Richard Pike

All political parties are concentrating, understandably, on what will happen after Brexit, but housing must remain a key issue

Two years ago, before the previous general election, I was quoted as saying: “Based on the Conservatives’ manifesto, homeownership is going to be a major focus for this government, with Mr Cameron wanting to ‘liberate’ those who are ‘trapped’ in the rental sector.”

We have not seen much sign of this, have we? The recent housing white paper played at addressing the issue but there has been little action since it was launched.

Understandably, a big focus for all political parties is what will happen post Brexit. But housing must remain one of the key issues.

Interestingly, a recent poll of almost 1,500 Conservative Party grass-roots members by website conservativehome.com found that one of the highest-priority issues was the need to build more houses.

The website says: “There’s no doubt this is one of the most pressing issues facing British governments of any colour: we’re not building nearly enough new houses, which means demand greatly outstrips supply and prices stay sky-high. But it’s a particular challenge for the Tories, who are supposed to be the party of homeownership. A long-term drift back towards a society of renters would bode ill for the party’s electoral prospects.”

Labour has made housing a key manifesto pledge too, promising to set up a new department for it and pledging to build more than one million publicly funded new homes over five years, with at least 500,000 being council homes.

It has also pledged to introduce a range of measures for private renters, including rent controls, secure tenancies, a charter of private tenants’ rights and increased access to affordable home­ownership.

There is little detail on how these various housing projects would be funded, but every party seems to recognise the priority that needs to be placed on the issue. Whichever party wins, we need to see this talk turned into action.

Richard Pike is sales and marketing director of Phoebus Software

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