Theresa May pledges to fix the broken housing market.

Theresa May on Housing

Theresa May has pledged to support local authorities in creating a new generation of council houses if the Conservatives are returned to power on June 8th.

Currently, there are more than 1 million families waiting for a council house; something the Prime Minister vows to fix.

This move would be a dramatic departure from the legacy of Margaret Thatcher who has been blamed by critics for the steep fall-off in council house building following her introduction of the right to buy for council tenants in the 1980’s.

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Whilst little detail has been offered as to the scale of the programme, the Conservatives claim thousands of homes will be built each year, and hundreds of millions of pounds will be invested over the course of the next parliament.

This proposal has been seen as another move by May on to traditional Labour territory and a bid to maximise the Tories appeal in the weeks leading up to the election.

However, it has failed to impress everyone with Shadow Housing secretary John Healey dismissing the pledge as “spin without substance”.

So how would this work?

According to the Conservatives plan, the Government would strike deals with councils and housing associations to provide support to build new homes through direct funding and extra borrowing.

A proportion of the properties would then be required to have a fixed social rent for up to 15 years at which point they would be sold with the tenant being given first refusal.

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The Tories have also pledged to reform the rules on compulsory purchase orders, making it cheaper and easier for councils to acquire the land for building.

Whilst May hopes that the move will reverse the decline in council house building which currently stands at a few hundred a years compared to the million homes a decade in the 60’s and 70’s, it might pay to be wary.

As Healey stated this week:

“Under Theresa May and the Tories, we’ve seen seven years of failure on housing with the level of new affordable housebuilding now at a 24-year low”

With this in mind, how can we be sure that this pledge is anything more than a bid to increase Tory popularity so close to the election?

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