Housing Becomes A Key Battleground In The Election Campaign

Michael Gove

Those of you who tuned in to Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday morning would have heard housing Secretary Michael Gove, who is not standing for re-election, kick-off the day by explaining that the Conservatives have a “clear plan” to help people get on to the housing ladder, and accuse Labour of “hammering hundreds of thousands of first-time buyers with a massive stamp duty increase from next April”.

The Tories decided to focus on housing throughout the day after Labour released a press release on Wednesday night vowing to improve conditions for renters. That prompted the Conservatives to accuse the opposition party of failing to deliver a clear plan to help address the current housing crisis in this country – Labour did the same.

Housing has become a key battleground in the election campaign.

The Conservatives said they were offering a better deal on stamp duty, by pledging to permanently abolishing the levy for first-time buyers buying properties up to £425,000.

Meanwhile, Labour said its more ambitious plans for energy efficiency in rental homes would protect tenants from higher energy bills.

Labour have said they would keep the current stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers, but speaking on Thursday leader Sir Keir Starmer would not commit to extending beyond April next year as proposed by the Conservative manifesto.

“In the Budget the government set out clearly its plan, that was costed, in relation to stamp duty and we will hold to that because it’s fully costed,” Sir Keir said.

Ed Miliband

He said the Conservatives’ proposal on stamp duty was “another example” of an unfunded commitment, which he would not follow.

Meanwhile, Labour has vowed to take action to protect renters, and claimed that tenants would be “better off” under them than under the Conservatives.

It said it would – much like almost al the other major parties – abolish Section 21 and require all all landlords to bring rental homes up to Energy Performance Certificate rating C by 2030,

“This is a policy that the current government was committed to and then abandoned,” said Ed Miliband, shadow secretary for climate change and net zero.

“They abandoned a million renters and sold them down the river. These are people living in homes that are cold and damp. Labour is on their side and we will work with landlords to make sure this happens in a way that is good for renters.”

Asked about the costs to landlords of making properties more energy efficient, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “I don’t think this will be too significant for them.”

“What we can’t have is a situation where people are in homes that are damp, that are hazardous to health,” she added. “A lot of landlords recognise that safe, warm homes are what we should be providing.”

Labour vows to improve conditions for renters – but campaigners demand more detail

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