What changes have been proposed in housing following December’s General Election?
Whatever side of the political divide you fall on there is some relief for everyone in knowing that we have a little more certainty about the future. We still don’t know what Brexit will look like but we do at least have a definite result from the December election. And that includes a range of promises that were set out in the Conservative manifesto with respect to housing. So, what changes are we likely to see in the coming years as a result of the Conservative win?
Promises to build
The Conservative manifesto contained a commitment to build at least a million homes over the next five years. It also showed some understanding of the difficulties that can be encountered when it comes to obtaining the right planning permissions and consents to build. The manifesto promised an “accelerated” green paper on planning, which would be structured in such a way as to make planning a quicker and more efficient process.
Helping people to get onto the housing ladder
There are a number of ways in which the Conservatives are hoping to help people to get a foot onto the housing ladder, including:
- Extending the housing association Right to Buy pilot that has already been tested in the Midlands to other areas of the country. As of October 2019 only 10 homes had been sold under this pilot but it is hoped that in future it will enable a number of people to buy discounted properties.
- The manifesto promised to renew a commitment to the Affordable Homes Programme in the Spring Statement.
- Creating a new scheme of ‘First Homes,’ which seems to have been inspired by David Cameron’s Starter Homes pledge. This will enable first homes to be sold at a 30% discount for first time buyers.
- Offering different types of mortgages. For example, the lifetime fixed rate mortgage, which will require just a 5% deposit.
More protection for tenants
The changes that were introduced to bring no-fault evictions to an end will be supported in 2020 and beyond, according to the government’s manifesto. The document also mentions the idea of ‘lifetime’ deposits, which would enable tenants to take their deposits with them to a new tenancy when they move.
Giving power to communities
One of the provisions in the Conservative manifesto would be to enable local communities to write design standards. There was also recognition that there is a need to ensure that infrastructure is in place in new communities (e.g. medical services and shops) before homes are built.
More focus on social and affordable housing
The Conservatives also promised to ensure that A Social Housing White Paper is delivered this year focusing on the social housing needs of the UK. Shared ownership is also to be streamlined so that there is just one set of rules for all housing associations across the UK.
The housing changes that were proposed by the Government before the election could have positive benefits for both homeowners and renters if they are followed through.
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