Labour wants to end homelessness. The Tories promise cheap land for councils to build on. And the Lib Dems would give planning power to the people. So which party should you bet your house on?
Like swapping her Vivienne Westwood tartan trouser suit for the geography teacher’s tweed jacket, Theresa May’s attempt to try on Labour housing policy makes an ill fit. Overturning decades of Tory tradition, May has promised to build “a new generation of social housing”, declaring that private housebuilders will never meet demand “without the active participation of social and municipal housing providers”. Municipal housing providers? It is the kind of throwback language of the welfare state that even Jeremy Corbyn dare not use.
As if trying to prove beyond all doubt that May is no Maggie, the Conservative manifesto appears, on the surface, to be a radical departure from the Thatcherite faith in the free market to solve the housing crisis. Even as recently as the February housing white paper, the government’s policies were focused on private-sector housebuilding, with measures designed to free up more sites for developers and getting them to build faster. But now the Tories are promising to enter into new “Council Housing Deals” with “ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing”. And they even want to let councils pay a lower price for the land to build on, forcing landowners to give up their assets for less.