Most Tory voters want more affordable housing stock, finds poll

Shows how out of touch the “Conservative” EDDC “Old Guard” really was! – Owl

Robert Booth 

A majority of Conservative voters want their party to deliver more affordable housing and let councils buy up empty properties, according to new polling which suggests that public frustration with the housing crisis is now more evenly spread across the political divide.

Two-thirds of Tories in the UK want new-build developments to include more affordable homes and 68% want higher taxes on second homes and empty properties, according to YouGov polling shared with the Guardian.

The research comes after the levelling up white paper disappointed some housing campaigners in England by failing to set targets for increasing the supply of low-rent homes, which is seen by many as a key weapon in the fight against the cost of living crisis.

A large minority of Conservative voters – 39% – support giving private renters indefinite tenancies which can only be ended when a tenant wants to move or in cases of criminal damage or severe rent arrears. Such a policy would go much further than the ban on no-fault evictions that Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, last week said he would deliver.

Matt Downie, the chief executive of Crisis, a charity for homeless people, said: “If there is clear cross-party support for making sure that people on lower or no incomes have somewhere stable to live, we’d urge the government to take action on that and start to unravel the enormous housing crisis facing this country.

“One of the most obvious ways we can tackle the cost of living crisis is to bring down housing costs.”

A study by Heriot-Watt University estimated that 90,000 more social homes needed to be built in England every year to meet demand.

But in the year 2020-21, housing associations built 26,010 new homes in England, which was the lowest level since 2016-17, while only 1,650 council homes were built – the fewest since 2014-15. The official figures mean affordable homes accounted for just 18% of new housebuilding. Home ownership among 25- to 34-year-olds has fallen from 51% in 1989 to 28% in 2019, according to the Resolution Foundation.

Downie said it was “heartening” that there was such support for increasing the amount of social housing built as part of new developments, which he said was “shockingly low despite there being an obligation [on developers] in theory”.

Many developers are able to argue that their schemes would not be financially viable if they had to build large numbers of affordable homes, meaning that local authorities are obliged to dilute their targets for cheap housing.

“There is support among both Labour and Conservative voters for almost all the policies we asked about,” said a spokesperson for YouGov. “While Labour voters tend to be more strongly in favour of these policies, foreign investment in the UK house market is more unpopular with Conservatives – 56% of Tory voters would support an end to non-domiciled property ownership, compared with 45% of Labour voters.”