Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem 2019 housing manifestos explained

2nd December 2019

row of houses

It’s been quite a year. We’ve twice postponed leaving the European Union, gained a new prime minister, and now there’s a general election to squeeze in before Christmas.

The main parties have finally published their manifestos setting out their priorities should they end up in power.

As usual, housing is a particularly hot topic, with a host of ideas aimed at helping you get on the housing ladder.

Take a look at what’s being promised before we head for the polls on December 12.

What are the parties saying?

Conservatives

With housing being such an important topic for this election, numerous Conservative pledges were leaked before the manifesto was published.

Here’s the lowdown.

  • Simplify planning laws to encourage small builders to develop more new homes in order to hit the party’s target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

  • Develop a market for ‘long-term’ fixed-rate mortgages ‒ of 25 years or more ‒ which the party reckons will reduce the amount borrowers need to save as deposits in order to buy a home.

  • Councils will have powers to reduce prices by a third for local buyers who can’t currently afford to buy in the area.

  • Right to Buy will continue, while the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be extended to 2023. The Conservatives also want people who are building their own home to have access to Help to Buy.

  • Non-resident UK buyers will face an additional stamp duty charge.

  • Ensure all shared ownership homes are operated to a single ‘standard’, making them simpler and more transparent.

  • Communities will be able to set their own ‘design standards’ for new developments, giving them more of a say in how new homes in their area look.

  • Introduce a ‘lifetime deposit’ for renters that can be moved between properties as they move.

The Conservative manifesto also calls for more joined-up thinking with new housing developments.

The party promises to amend planning rules so that infrastructure like roads, schools, and GP surgeries are built before people move into the new properties.

And it wants to see all new streets ‘lined with trees’.

Read the full Conservative manifesto

Labour

Labour’s manifesto is called ‘It’s Time For Real Change’, and there are sweeping changes promised for the housing market.

  • Low-cost homes, reserved for first-time buyers, will be built in every area. These will include ‘discount’ homes, where the price is linked to local incomes.

  • The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be reformed so that it focuses on first-time buyers on ‘ordinary incomes’.

  • End the sale of new leasehold properties, while making it easier for leaseholders to buy the freehold of their property.

  • New housebuilding programme, with at least 150,000 council and social homes built each year, as well as investing in improving the standard and energy efficiency of council and housing association homes.

  • Developers will face a ‘use it or lose it’ tax on land they own, but aren’t building on. An English Sovereign Land Trust will also be established to buy public sector land and convert it into housing.

  • End the Right to Buy.

  • Cap rent increases at the rate of inflation, with individual cities given powers to restrict them further, as well as introduce new open-ended tenancies. There will be new licensing for landlords and tougher penalties for breaking the rules.

There’s a big focus on affordability in Labour’s pledges, including the promise to redefine what we class as affordable, by linking it to local incomes rather than a national average.

There’s also an emphasis on protecting tenants – from limiting future rent rises to establishing ‘renters’ unions’ across the country to organise and defend their rights.

One positive for landlords, though, is that they’d no longer be expected to dig into a tenant’s immigration status, as is currently the case.

Read the full Labour manifesto

Liberal Democrats

Affordability is a key theme for the Liberal Democrats too, with a whole section of their manifesto devoted to access to affordable housing.

  • Build 300,000 new homes a year, with at least 100,000 new council homes.

  • New homes will be built to zero-carbon standards, while a 10-year programme will be launched to help reduce the energy consumption of the nation’s buildings.

  • Local councils will get full control of the Right to Buy programme.

  • A Rent to Own system will be set up for social housing, allowing tenants to own their social property outright after paying rent for 30 years.

  • Local authorities will have the power to increase council tax by up to 500% on second homes, while overseas buyers will face higher stamp duty rates for second properties.

  • A new Help to Rent scheme will see government back tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters aged under 30, while longer tenancies of three years or more will be promoted.

  • Landlords will face mandatory licensing.

Rent to Own was floated in the last election, and may prove popular as you’ll end up owning a property without needing to save for a deposit or take out a mortgage.

The Liberal Democrats’ very ambitious housebuilding targets may also be a winner with those who hope that an increased housing stock will make house prices fall.

And like Labour, there’s an emphasis on improving the energy efficiency of both new and existing homes.

Read the full Liberal Democrat manifesto

What about the other parties?

The Scottish National Party

There’s not much about housing in the SNP manifesto beyond a couple of key policies:

  • Push the UK government to find a solution for homeowners in high-rise buildings who are currently unable to get a mortgage due to fears over cladding.

  • Change planning laws to promote greener homes.

Read the SNP’s manifesto in full

The Green Party

The Green Party plans to:

  • Build more affordable homes, including 100,000 council homes a year.

  • Make sure all new developments are located and designed so that residents don’t need to use a car.

  • Improve the insulation of all homes.

  • Provide one million homes with the means to generate at least some of the energy they use.

  • Make sure all rented homes have an A rating for energy efficiency, or as close as possible, by raising the minimum level from its current E rating by 2030.

Read the Green Party manifesto in full

The Brexit Party

The Brexit Party says it will:

  • Make the planning process simpler to encourage small and medium-sized developers to build more homes.

  • Give developers more ‘flexibility’ over the number of affordable homes they must build in a development.

  • Make it easier for councils to borrow from central government to build council homes.

Read the Brexit Party manifesto in full

What’s missing from the manifestos?

While every party has prioritised building more homes, there’s precious little on ensuring people get a better deal when they borrow money in order to buy one.

We know from our own research that misplaced mortgage loyalty is costing borrowers a small fortune.

If you move onto your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) at the end of your fixed or tracker term, then you’ll end up paying an average of £4,700 a year more.¹

This dwarfs the loyalty penalties in other household bills like energy, where you would have to fork out an additional £320.²

Concerns over customers staying loyal to their energy suppliers led to the introduction of price capping. Yet no party has promised to step in and protect borrowers.

That’s something we’d like to see change, no matter who ends up in Number 10.

Sources:

¹ Trussle Mortgage Saver Review, pg 37

² Ofgem

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