Which political party offers the best housing deal for you in the 2015 General Election?
From expansion of the Right to Buy scheme to building new houses – housing has featured heavily in the manifestos of the main parties ahead of the May 7 election.
We take an unbiased look at exactly what the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP Greens and UKIP are promising voters in terms of housing and property buying.
The Conservatives have put home ownership at the heart of their housing strategy in their 2015 manifesto.
Citing the Help to Buy scheme, the Conservative manifesto promises the creation of 200,000 ‘starter homes’ for first time buyers.
As well as an extension to the Help to Buy loan scheme and the introduction of the Help to Buy ISA during the 2015 budget, the Conservatives also announced its plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to Housing Association tenants.
Right to Buy currently allows tenants in council houses the right to buy their property. According to the manifesto, the change will require local authorities to manage their housing allocations more efficiently, including the selling off of more expensive properties.
A£5 billion ‘Future Homes Fund’ to build new houses is a major feature of Labour’s 2015 manifesto, with first time buyers set to benefit the most. The report suggests that under Labour, local governments will give first call to first time buyers on new homes in areas of housing growth.
Like the Conservatives, building 200,000 new houses a year also forms part of Labour’s manifesto, as well as the introduction of ‘use it or lose it’ powers to stop developers from sitting on land without building on it.
Renters are also considered under the manifesto, including a ceiling on rent rises and national register of private landlords to drive up standards of rental properties.
The Lib Dems have pledged a rise of house building to 300,000 new homes a year in its manifesto, as well as a new government-backed Housing Investment Bank to provide long-term capital for major new settlements and help attract finance for major house building projects.
Allowing local authorities more flexibility to borrow to build affordable housing, including traditional council housing, and the devolution of full control of the Right to Buy to local government also forms part of the Liberal Democrat housing plans.
Renters will also be helped, with the promise of a Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30, as well as encouraging a new multi-year tenancy with an agreed inflation-linked annual rent increase built in.
The SNP – the last of the parties to launch their manifesto – has backed an annual UK target of 100,000 affordable homes and announced plans to use additional capital investment to deliver a further expansion of house-building in Scotland.
The Scottish Nationalist Party has also promised £30 million of ring-fenced support for smaller developers within the Help to Buy Scotland scheme.
Support for Help to Buy and shared equity to help people get a foot on the housing ladder is also mentioned as part of the manifesto.
The SNP is the only party not to have a dedicated housing section in its full manifesto.
According to UKIP’s manifesto, a new house needs to be built every seven minutes in order to meet demand.
The United Kingdom Independence Party has promised to build one million homes on brownfield sites by 2020, while protecting the green belt and bringing empty homes back into use.
The UKIP manifesto also suggested that the Right to Buy and Help to Buy schemes be restricted to British nationals only.
Plans to oppose the Mansion Tax is also part of the housing manifesto.
The Green Party has suggested that house prices are an issue to the market and preventing first time buyers from getting a foot on the housing ladder.
It recommends that the Bank of England be given the powers it has requested to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and the borrower’s income, as well as planning to scrap the Help to buy scheme.
The Green manifesto also includes plans to provide 500,000 social rented homes to high sustainability standards and to end mass council house sales and the Right to Buy at a discounted price.
The party has also stated that it wants to reform the private rented sector by introducing a ‘living rent’ tenancy (including five-year fixed tenancy agreements), smart rent control that caps annual rent increases linked to the Consumer Price Index, security of tenancy and local not-for-profit letting agencies, and abolishing letting agents’ fees and insurance-based deposit schemes.
So - most parties seem to agree there is a shortage of housing in the UK.
It has also been agreed that many first time buyers face problems getting on the housing ladder.
As to the solution - the choice remains yours ahead of the May 7 election.