It is one of the few pleasing aspects of the General Election campaigns up to now, that a commitment to providing large numbers of affordable housing has featured across all the Party Manifesto’s. This is certainly a refreshing change when compared to the 2010 and 2015 Elections where it featured , but only in terms of gimmick policies such as extending the Right To Buy.

The issues facing the country around the lack of affordable housing options is stark, particularly for young people, and a poor set of choices for the increasing numbers of older people likely to form a growing part of the population. The fact that there is less Social Housing than at any time since the 1950’s, and that owner occupation is falling { indeed without the Right To Buy it would be at 1970’s levels} has meant a real growth in the Private Rented Sector. While there are many properties rented privately that are good , decent homes in good locations, there are too many that are not fit for purpose and where the level of security of tenure is poor.

All Political Parties recognise the issues, but other than having policies that focus on enforcement for the very worst, are silent on more progressive policies to encourage a good quality and progressive Private Rented sector. There are a number of Housing Associations moving into this area of work, and sound partnerships between Associations and private landlords and investors are proving to be bearing real fruit. But the sooner the Government, whoever it is, recognises that it need security of tenure in the private sector to be increased, with people seeing properties as their potential long term home as they do all over Europe we will only be scratching the surface. The Parties need to lift their thinking away from the traditional talk of council housing and ownership, and explore broader models that straddle tenures, allow people to have mobility between options for different phases of their life and free up investment and innovation.

Despite Brexit, often Europe does know best, and visiting Swedish and German housing companies soon makes you realise that the UK Housing Market is at times nuts, and there is a compelling case to create homes , whichever tenure.

 

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