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Election day is here, but which party is capable of fixing the housing crisis?

With successive governments failing to build enough housing - particularly social housing - the UK is in the grip of a worsening crisis, with homelessness on the rise. 

But various experts, such as Jeremy Leaf, the former RICS residential chairman, believe that none of the main parties have shown a particularly good understanding as to how to fix the UK's ‘broken’ housing market.

The north London estate agent said: “New ideas to address the growing discrepancy between the government’s own estimate of annual household formations of 240,000 each year until at least 2032 with the current provision of only around 152,000, would be a good start. Where are the ideas for improving planning and delivery? The same ingredients will only produce a similar cake.”


The Conservative manifesto pledge made in 2015 and reiterated ahead of today’s general election to increase the supply of new build homes by delivering a million homes by the end of 2020 looks increasingly inadequate, given the number of new build homes that are actually required annually.

The Tory party’s aim to deliver a million new build homes to tackle a ‘decades-old deficit’ by 2020 is not only insufficient, but also increasingly unlikely to be met, given that the number of homes currently being built remains significantly below the government’s target of 200,000 new homes a year, or the 300,000 new properties that the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee last year recommended should be delivered each year.

Labour has also pledged to build a million new homes, including at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year, if elected. But given that significantly more homes are needed annually, their plans also appear to be inadequate.

Mark Weedon, head of research at Property Partner, said: “The housing market is broken, there are not enough homes and despite both of the UK’s major parties’ stated ambitions to tackle the housing crisis, their manifesto plans fall short given the scale of the problem.”

“It’s high time politicians realised nothing short of a step change in housebuilding will ever get close to delivering the homes required to meet our growing population,” he added.

The Liberal Democrat’s aim to deliver 300,000 new homes a year seems ambitious, particularly without clear measures of how this will be achieved.

However, the party’s proposal for a Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to finance new garden cities sounds appealing, as does its lack of policy interm of protectin the greenbelt.

Anthony Aitken, head of planning at Colliers International, is among those who have identified the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto as potentially offering the greatest solution to the chronic shortage of homes, as it quite simply, unlike the other manifestos, fails to mention anything about pledging to protect the greenbelt. 

“Their silence speaks volumes, and may suggest that the Lib Dems are prepared to address the elephant in the room,” said Aitken. “There is widespread recognition that more needs to be done to help developers build more new homes.”

Almost a third (30.9%) of homeowners surveyed by Property Price Advice earlier this week said that the housing policies proposed by the main parties would have an impact on which party they vote for in today’s general election. 

  • Mark Hempshell

    Correct. None of them. All the main parties know that housing isn't something that wins or loses votes, which is probably why they don't do much about it.


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