This week’s Labour Party conference was a love-in for the darling of the left Jeremy Corbyn, the man who took the Labour Party to the brink of government in the last election. Beneath all the bluster and backslapping, air kisses and extended applause, it seems that the Labour Party does have a plan for the UK housing market. Some elements are controversial, some make perfect sense and while many are concerned about Labour’s track record in managing the economy and spending, there is also a feeling that the Conservative party has done nothing to tackle the issue.
Consumer rights revolution
While some would argue that the tail is wagging the dog with a planned consumer rights revolution for private renters, with the majority of landlords abiding by the regulations, there are others who do abuse the system. The Labour Party wants to bring in landlord licensing, minimum three-year tenancies and an inflation cap on rent rises. The London market, very different from the general UK market, will be given a little more flexibility but will in broad terms operate under the same structure.
Regeneration and social housing
If Jeremy Corbyn does make it to 10 Downing Street he has promised to back a new extended program of regeneration and the building of more social housing. Under current regulations where an estate changes ownership there is continued tenancy but where a property is demolished and rebuilt this is not the case – the Labour Party will change this.
The controversial subject of compulsory purchases and land assembly will follow the socialist revolution if the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn does make it to the top office. These powers have been suggested time and time again in the past but it does seem as though there is momentum behind this latest move by Jeremy Corbyn. Quite how this would work is unclear but we do know there are in excess of 1 million homes in the UK which are vacant, at a time when there is unprecedented pressure on social housing.
While not everything which comes out of the political arena is straightforward and factually truthful, there is an understanding that the Conservative party has cut back on social housing spending in recent years. We have seen a significant increase in the private rental market, a blooming buy to let industry until recent tax rises so maybe it is time to put funding back in the hands of the local authorities. The one problem is that history shows us local authorities are not very good at running housing programs, controlling costs and maximising efficiencies.
A stark choice for voters
It is common knowledge that some areas of the UK are effectively out of bounds for first-time buyers but is this not necessarily the fault of the Conservative party but more the political elite in general. Does it make sense to return to a more socialist housing policy across the UK where historically costs have run out of control and quality has often been questioned?
The best solution is probably a halfway house between the Conservative policy and the Labour policy but these two political giants regularly lock horns and have totally different views on free markets, social housing and return on investment. Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months it is certainly going to be an interesting time for the UK political arena and the UK housing market. Change is required but what type of change?