Housing was one of a number of areas where in the election the parties tried to outdo each other. The Conservatives made “relatively modest” promises in respect of social housing; no doubt recognising that their vote would depend on “GBD” rather than new homes. 

However, as Boris said, many of the electorate lent the Conservatives their votes. In our view, housing is one of the areas that might mean those new Conservative voters extend the Conservative’s line of credit.

All the parties included proposals for substantial new house building, greater rights for private and social tenants, action on rough sleeping and homelessness, and on building standards. The Conservative twist was an emphasis on home ownership – the VRTB and affordable housing (what we now expect to be the extended scope of shared ownership and the extension of help to buy). Delivering on a million new homes* over the next 5 years, was not especially ambitious given we currently build 180,000 houses per year.

What, then, from their manifesto, can we ascertain will be the Conservative’s “housing game changer?”  What will put credit in the voters’ bank?

Though the Conservative’s promise on homelessness was not as ambitious as the other parties, nevertheless, ending rough sleeping within five years is still a huge task. There’s 4,700 rough sleepers in England and Wales – more than double the number in 2010 and the Government isn’t meeting its target to halve rough sleepers by 2022. In the housing sector, we are seeing the Regulator challenging providers of exempt accommodation which might, given the reduced statutory housing obligations to single persons, result in significant increase in that number.

Eradicating homelessness and putting in place policies to prevent homelessness happening in the first place should in our view be the top housing priority. From Sidmouth (of all places), to Stockton, homeless people are dying. Ending homelessness is what any decent society should do. Seeing a reduction of homeless people would be the game changer.

Across the country there are a number of social housing sector initiatives (and we have had the privilege of working on some of them). Many come from the Mayors who understand their local communities are shamed by what is happening.

Number 10 now has the opportunity to make the challenge a national challenge, looking at best practice and making tackling the issue one of the priorities across Government. If it does, the whole social housing sector needs to take the opportunity to support it; making preventing homelessness and providing accommodation suitable for homeless its priority too.

Let’s see!

Jonathan Cox

* In England, since housing is devolved to Scotland and Wales.