Why are neither of the major parties talking about housing during this General Election?

23 May 2024, 15:34 | Updated: 23 May 2024, 16:28

Why are neither of the major parties talking about housing during this General Election? Writes Connor Hand for LBC Views
Why are neither of the major parties talking about housing during this General Election? Writes Connor Hand for LBC Views. Picture: LBC
Connor Hand

By Connor Hand

Those who know me will be unsurprised by the following admission: I have never been a conventionally cool person.

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Whether it’s my geeky insistence on correcting people’s maths, antiquated fashion sense or reflexive quoting of Peep Show at any opportunity, I doubt I am anybody’s first choice when they think of personification of cool.

These unattractive qualities are all my own fault. Period.

However, there is a structural reason which has bolstered my uncool credentials - and it’s one that affects even genuinely popular people.

You see, I’m 27 years old and still live with my mum.

A couple of generations ago, I’m reliably informed, this would have rendered me a social outcast.

This idea isn’t just based on the agitated ramblings of relatives trying to put me down, either. It’s borne out in the statistics.

In the 1980s, around half of people between the ages of 18-34 year-olds lived in their own home with children. That figure has plummeted. According to the latest data, the equivalent figure is now just one-in-five.

More alarmingly, the most common arrangement for 18-34 year-olds is to be living at home with their parents, particularly amongst young men.

This is now the reality for 4.9 million Brits. So what’s happened?

Although Gen Z is maligned for a variety of reasons, it is clearly not the case that the majority of those living at home are doing so because they’re so fragile and uncertain of their place in the world that they daren’t flee the nest.

The brutal reality is, of course, financial.

Analysis suggests it would now take a 25-30 year-old, 30 years(!) to save for a deposit in London based on their average earnings. Nor is this an issue confined to the capital; across the UK, it’s an average of thirteen years for this demographic to save for a deposit, up from just three in the 1980s.

Inflated prices, the repeated failures to build the requisite supply of private homes and the lack of council housing availability are all contributory factors.

And then there’s the rental market. This parliament was supposed to deliver a host of beneficial measures through the Rental Reform Bill, including the banning of no-fault evictions.

With the calling of the General Election, however, the Renters Reform Bill has been spiked; renters have been left in limbo once again.

The frustration that’s built up amongst renters and those looking to get onto the housing ladder is reflected in polling. For 18-49-year-olds, housing is behind only the economy and the NHS in the most important issues facing the country; parties willing to offer bold solutions to the housing crisis therefore have a real opportunity to hoover up disillusioned voters.

For whatever reason, though, they don’t seem to be taking it.

Neither of the main parties are necessarily devoid of ideas in this area; Labour has promised to build 1.5 million houses, whilst the Tories have declared they will offer “British homes for British workers”, prioritising UK nationals for social housing.

But with this issue ranking as one of the top three considerations for such a large portion of the electorate, it is striking that they haven’t placed housing front and centre in their campaigns.

Sir Keir Starmer opted not to include housing in his six steps to transforming the country - and it’s the same story for Rishi Sunak’s five pledges.

Why the main parties are so reluctant to put housing at the heart of their electoral messaging could well prove to be one of the election’s great mysteries.