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Housing is expected to be at the centre of the UK Budget on Wednesday but critics argue the Conservatives have made similar promises to fix the escalating costs in the past but have failed to deliver on seven of their housing pledges from before the 2015 election.
“Ministers’ record on housing since 2010 shows this is a government that talks big but delivers little. Even flagship manifesto pledges have been dropped or delayed,” said John Healey, shadow housing minister, who commissioned research by the House of Commons library detailing the lapses.
A pledge by David Cameron to allow 1.3m housing association tenants in the UK to buy their homes has yet to be met two years after it was made, despite being front-page news in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
Instead of implementing the Right to Buy policy the government has carried out a small pilot study for housing associations and is now considering a more widespread assessment. It has also told councils they do not need to sell any expensive properties in the 2017-18 financial year and has given no guidance for 2018-19.
The 2015 Tory manifesto declared that the policy — under which homes would be sold at a market discount — would be paid for by councils selling off their most expensive properties. But 31 months later, it has yet to be implemented. It is one of seven policies from the Housing and Planning Act 2016 that remain in limbo.
In 2014 Mr Cameron announced a new policy for “Starter Homes”, which would allow 100,000 first-time buyers to buy new homes at a 20 per cent discount. The relevant sections of the housing act were meant to come into force in the summer of 2017, but are still waiting for two statutory instruments to be enacted.
The news that the Tories have failed to deliver an array of key housing policies is awkward for chancellor Philip Hammond. The government wants to reassure voters that it is taking the housing “crisis” seriously and is aware of how difficult it has become for many young people to buy their first property.
Mr Hammond is expected to announce an extra £5bn for social housebuilding, a cut in stamp duty for first-time buyers, the relaxation of borrowing limits to allow some councils to build more homes, and loans for small-scale builders.
A government spokesman said: “Since 2010, we’ve delivered over 1.1m homes, including 346,000 affordable properties, but there’s more to do as set out in our Housing White Paper. This includes supporting housing association tenants who aspire to own their own homes and building on our action to date to make sure those renting get a fair deal.”
The Housing and Planning Act separately promised to improve electrical safety standards in the private rental sector, based on the findings of a working group of experts. Ministers have not taken action on their report.
Finally, a pledge to impose “banning orders” on landlords flouting regulations and a database of rogue landlords and letting agents have yet to be introduced. The database is expected soon.