It is general knowledge that the UK faces a housing crisis, and that the subject has become a contentious political topic. The solution to the problem continues to be widely disputed.
Prime Minister David Cameron recently told his party conference that housing was “unfinished business” in the British economy and he wanted housebuilding to become the focus of a national crusade. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his own party conference that housing was a major priority and vowed to instigate that biggest programme for council housebuilding since the 1970s. Both the Conservatives and Labour agree that the supply of available housing needs to go up, but a divide exists on the subject of what to build.
The Tories emphasise steps to promote home ownership while the opposition values homes for social rent. Homeowners are over twice as likely to vote Conservative, while residents of social rented homes are twice as likely to vote Labour. There’s also a generational factor: according to the last census, over 80% of the over-50s own their own homes. The majority of under-35s are in the rented sector. In the last election, twice as many pensioners voted Conservative.
The impact of the housing crisis is felt most acutely in the south of England, especially in the city of Oxford. Council leader Bob Price says that Oxford is now the country’s most unaffordable place to live, and that it’s consequently facing disaster. Mr. Price says that Oxford University is unable to secure key people, the hospitals don’t have enough doctors and nurses, and high-tech industries are unable to get the workforce they need. At present, the shortage of affordable homes has resulted in over 46,000 people commuting into the city daily, some from as far as Birmingham and Swindon.