Poll of 600 housing experts reveals 6% believe Tories can deliver on housing pledges, with trust falling to 4% for Lib Dems
Housing experts do not trust the coalition government to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, a survey of 600 experienced managers and strategists has revealed.
Labour and Conservative policymakers have identified housing as a key battleground at the next election, fighting to win the support of Generation Rent – young people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder and may never afford a home of their own.
Members of the Guardian’s housing network were asked how they responded to all three main political parties on their plans for housing. Just 6% said they trusted the Conservative party to deliver its promises, dropping to only 4% for the Liberal Democrats – a damning analysis of the coalition government’s progress in the face of growing housing need. More than 75,000 children woke up homeless on Christmas Day, according to Shelter, while the 2011 census revealed that home ownership is in decline and renting on the rise for the first time in decades.
No political party has a monopoly on support from traditionally leftwing housing staff. Although almost half of respondents to the survey (48%) said they would trust Labour to deliver on housing, a total of 41% said they did not know which party to trust.
“Given the scale of the housing crisis and the number of years it has been in the making, it’s not entirely surprising that housing industry professionals lack faith in politicians’ ability to address it,” said Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, the professional body for housing staff.
“A major crisis has been storing up in our housing system for some time. Although some politicians have been more active than others in trying to tackle this issue, a continuing crisis at this scale shows they have yet to effectively respond.”
The survey also asked which party’s housing policy would be most effective in tackling the housing crisis. Again, the coalition’s approach was called into question with only 7% stating that the Conservative party had the right policies, and 6% backing the Liberal Democrats. Labour garnered support for its housing policies from 51% of respondents, but 37% remained undecided.
Roger Harding, head of policy and research at Shelter, said: “Any party serious about this issue needs to grapple both with building more homes and with reforming the rented sector, and currently we are not seeing sufficient cross-party leadership. Our housing crisis is now impacting not just on the most vulnerable, but on huge swaths of the population who are struggling to find and afford a decent home of their own.
“Our analysis suggests that increasingly parties need to be credible on people’s housing aspirations if they are to be seen to be on the side of voters. Young families, their parents, those on low incomes and those doing very well are increasingly united, together with professionals, in their concern that a generation’s aspiration for a decent home is slipping away.”
The new housing minister Mark Prisk, who replaced Grant Shapps in September’s cabinet reshuffle, received mixed reviews from the housing professionals who will be working with him in 2013. The majority (42%) said the government’s commitment to implementing its housing strategy would remain the same under Prisk’s leadership, with 10% expecting a boost in commitment on housing from the coalition.
But a quarter feared that housing would slide into the shadows under Prisk, who is not a central figure of the coalition in the media. “Mark Prisk has a much lower profile and housing issues are being trampled by welfare reform and there seems very little progress,” one respondent said.