There is a real difficulty for Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party at the moment.
After 14 years in power, any failings land squarely at their door. “There is an almost universal consensus that the property market, and housing in general, are not in a satisfactory state.
With rents very high, buy-to-let mortgages through the roof, prices falling, and new build volumes inadequate, this is a property market that suits almost nobody.
It’s a toxic mix for Mr Sunak ahead of the election. The Prime Minister might want to make property a key battleground at the next election, but he really does face a mammoth task in convincing voters this Government has the answers.
Conservatives are thought traditionally to be the party of home ownership. Whilst this aspiration may still be there, policies to assist with ownership, such as Help2Buy, have all but backfired as any savings were wiped out by price increases.
The post-Covid Stamp Duty holiday was the same. Dropping house-building targets has weakened supply, again increasing costs. Slow wage growth has not kept pace with prices, so we are in a housing crisis.
Traditional perceptions of the parties need to be revised. Low taxes and homeownership are no longer a staple of the Tories in Government.
Labour is trying to portray themselves as the party with strict fiscal policy and the target to increase homeownership. It means traditional positions are being turned on their head.
Environmental regulation for housebuilders and dropping EPC improvements for landlords will win some approval in those sectors. Still, the detrimental effects – or at least the perception of them – may lose more votes than it gains. In other words, for every landlord you please, there is a higher number of tenants who have lost out.
The 2019 election may well be fresh in the minds of many but those voting for the first time next year would have been 13 years old when Corbyn took on Johnson last time. The 2019 General Election saw a turnout of around 47% amongst voters aged 18-24 who will be 23 – 29 this time around. In years gone by that was the prime time for buying a home – not so now.
Since 2019 it has become harder to buy for the first time, the party that cuts through and seems to give the most hope of home ownership will do well amongst this group.
* Jonathan Rolande is the founder of House Buy Fast and a spokesman for the National Association of Property Buyers *
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