With many issues high on the list of election discussion topics, less attention was put on manifesto pledges regarding housing.
However, with the Tories running home to an unexpectedly comfortable win in the general election, now’s the time to ask what their plans are for housing over the next five years:
The Conservative Government is set to extend its right-to-buy scheme, which offers financial incentives to allow tenants of housing association properties to purchase their homes. Prior to the election, around 800,000 tenants were eligible for the scheme, with a maximum discount of around £16,000 on the market price of their house. Plans will open up the initiative to a further 500,000 people by including tenants who have been in their homes for three years or more, with discounts offered of up to £102,700 depending on which part of the UK the occupant is in.
Supporters of the scheme argue that it helps people to get on the property ladder, and the Government has promised that all revenues raised from the scheme will go towards replacing the housing association homes for those that need them. Critics, however, say that selling off housing association properties reduces their availability for people who require assistance.
New starter homes
David Cameron has pledged 200,000 new ‘starter homes’, which will be available for purchasing at up to a 20% discount for first-time buyers under the age of 40. The scheme works by waiving fees normally paid by developers on the understanding that they are made available to younger first-time homeowners, and that the properties cannot subsequently be sold on within five years of the purchase. The homes will be built on ‘brownfield’ sites, formerly used for industry or wasteland.
Similarly to the discussion around right-to-buy housing, supporters claim it will make home-owning easier, whilst detractors argue that it will decrease the amount of new social housing being built.
The Government plans to extend its Help-to-buy scheme, where people can purchase a property of up to £600,000 with just a 5% deposit. The Government then offers a 20% equity loan, meaning the borrower only has to take out a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the property’s value. The Conservatives plan to extend this policy to a further 120,000 homes, as well as introducing the Help-to-buy ISA. This savings account will reportedly be open to first-time buyers, and will have a 25% matched contribution from the Government for every pound saved in it to help pay a deposit on a home. The Tories claim that these measures will increase homeownership, but critics suggest that they could create another property price bubble and force prices up.