In the year of Brexit and general economic uncertainty, some question how much of a priority housing will be for Theresa May during her first term in government. There were some encouraging signs when Philip Hammond announced in his Autumn Statement that the government would be spending £1.4 billion on building 40,000 affordable new homes. Yet, even if building new houses is certainly one way to tackle the housing crisis, what else should the government do? Just as importantly, what are the main areas the British public want the Prime Minister to focus on when it comes to housing policy? To get an insight into this, a survey we ran in collaboration with whathouse.com revealed what policy measures they would like to see happening in the coming years.
A controversial area that was generally agreed upon was the abolition of stamp duty. 61% of the public want stamp duty abolished with that figure rising to 69% in London. In contrast, the success of the Help to Buy scheme was acknowledged with only 7% wanting to stop this type of subsidising for homebuyers. The figure was even lower in London with only 2% favouring the abolition of Help to Buy
One other housing policy measure announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement was the relaxation on government grant restrictions to try and widen the type of new houses being built. That should please the 22% in the survey who said they wanted planning restrictions to be simplified allowing house building to be easier and quicker.
Earlier in the year a policy was announced regarding the expansion of the Right to Buy scheme, which allows local authority tenants to buy their own home. This seems to be generally favoured with only 22% of those questioned wanting to stop the Right to Buy scheme. At the same time, 25% want local authorities to raise their own funds to build new homes. One of the highest percentages seen in the survey was in regards to foreign ownership of UK properties. 46% of those questioned across the UK want more restrictions on foreign homebuyers, with 56% of those living in London wanting this to happen.
Developers not building on land they already have permission to build upon has been put forward by some as another reason for the lack of new houses. However, only 25% of those surveyed wanted developers to be penalised for doing this.
Where to build new houses is another contentious issue. This was reflected in only 10% wanting green belt land to be used for building new homes and even less, 9%, wanting to encourage more high-rise building to maximise land use.
Whether what the public wants in regards to housing policy will be reflected in what the government actually does, remains to be seen. However, in the meantime, this survey gives an indication the electorate have their own ideas of how to tackle a housing crisis that doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.