As we head to the voting booth tomorrow, one thing has become clear: housing is high on the political agenda in the chase for Number 10.
The three main manifestos have each demonstrated a welcome commitment to tackling a broken housing market. The simply reason why? Voters.
New research from the National Housing Federation has recently identified cross-party support for new housing. Voters are now clear that they want new homes to be built in their area, and they’re most supportive if these homes are affordable to local people.
Two thirds of Conservative voters, three quarters of Liberal Democrat identifiers and four in five Labour supporters back building new affordable homes for local people. There’s now also a widespread and cross-party feeling that Government should help low-income workers to pay their rent.
But despite this newfound unity, the shortfall of affordable housing in the South East has been growing for some time. Our own report, Capping Aspirations: The Millennial Challenge, recently highlighted the increasing severity of the housing crisis for those aged under 35.
Buying a home is completely beyond the reach of a first-time buyer in the South East, with the average house price now 11 times the typical regional salary. And there were 90,000 too few homes built between 2011 and 2015 to satisfy demand.
The manifestos are ambitious in their visions for housing, but so too are housing associations. Our sector has been ramping up its contribution to housing supply for some time, and last year began work on nearly 48,000 new homes across England. This puts us on track to meet our target of 250,000 new homes over the next five years.
In the South East alone, housing associations completed over 6,000 new homes last year and laid the first brick on another 8,600. This was, by some distance, the highest sector output outside of London.
Here at Sovereign, we’re maintaining our focus on providing quality affordable housing – a commitment we take seriously as the largest housing association in the South and South West. We built a total of 1,225 new homes last year and have ambitions to build around 1,400 more in 2017. But this level of housebuilding can only continue with the right support.
It’s encouraging that all parties are looking towards housing associations as the solution to the housing crisis, so our message to the next Government is simple: work with Sovereign and together we can help build the homes this country needs.