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Only a quarter of voters believe political parties pay a lot of attention to housing

  • Joint research by Zoopla and Ipsos finds voters put building more housing at the top of their priority list for the next Government in front of 10 other housing issues
  • Tackling homelessness and reducing the number of empty homes also feature among the highest priorities
  • Despite first-time buyers being a focus of several housing pledges by the political parties, this is a lower ranked priority than others.
  • Homeowners and social renters agree that the top priorities for the incoming government should be building more homes, while private renters are relatively more likely to attach higher priority to controlling the pace of rent rises and rental reforms.

Our joint research with Ipsos has revealed that just a quarter of voters agree with the statement that ‘the political parties pay a lot of attention to housing’. The survey investigated voters’ housing priorities for an incoming Government. 

Building more affordable housing should be the top priority for the Government 

According to the research, half of voters (50%) disagree with the statement that ‘there isn’t much Governments can do to encourage the building of new homes’. A fifth (21%) strongly disagree, demonstrating a belief that Governments can make a positive difference to rates of home-building. 

The main political party manifestos continue to target 300,000 or more homes a year in England. This level hasn’t been reached for over 40 years, but the numbers have been increasing. In 2023, home building (measured by net additions to supply) fell 65,000 homes short of the 300,000 mark.

However, public opinion is divided about how to fund the building of more affordable housing.

Just over two-fifths (41%) support the idea that increased Government borrowing should be used to fund this. However, only a quarter (26%) are willing to see taxes rise to pay for this, raising the question of how and who should support the funding of future home building at a time when the costs of building have been rising but house prices have stalled.

What should be the other key housing priorities?

Voters also care about homelessness and rough sleeping, which ranked as the second priority for the next Government, chosen by 41%. This was followed by 39% who selected a reduction in the number of empty homes.

The highest priority for the rental market is managing the pace of rental growth in the private sector which was chosen by 33%. This was followed by giving renters in the private rented sector more rights, for example in relation to evictions and rent rises (selected by 21%). 

The political parties are all aligned on the need for a new Government to deliver rental reforms but measures to manage or control rental inflation are not proposed in England as there is a risk this reduces new investment in homes. Rental inflation for new lets is slowing (currently standing at +6.6%) and on track to fall below the pace of earnings growth in 2024. 

Support for first-time buyers featured joint fourth in the list of priorities at 33%, despite this group being the focus of several housing pledges by political parties. First time buyers (FTBs) struggle with the deposit levels to buy a home, often relying on the bank of mum and data for assistance. Even with support for a deposit, the household income to buy for FTBs currently averages £60,600.

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Homeowners and renters have different housing priorities

Building more affordable homes was the top-ranked priority for the incoming government for homeowners (those buying on a mortgage or owning outright) and social renters, followed by tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. 

Increasing housing benefits for low-income renters ranked in third place for social renters. Housing benefit levels have been reset for 2024/25 but the availability of homes for rent for those on low incomes remains a challenge and requires an increase in home building for social homes and private housing.

Meanwhile, for private renters, the number one focus for the next Government should be controlling the pace of rent rises, followed by building more homes and increasing the rights and protections for renters.

Top 3 priorities by tenure*

Homeowners

  • Build more affordable homes
  • Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Helping first-time buyers get on the property ladder

Social renters

  • Build more affordable homes
  • Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Increase housing benefit for low-income renters

Private renters

  • Control rises in rents in the private sector
  • Build more affordable homes
  • Give renters in the private sector more rights

Commenting on the research, Richard Donnell, Executive Director at Zoopla said: 

“British voters have high expectations from a new Government on housing. The overarching response is ‘build more homes, but other things matter too’.

“People’s experiences and priorities vary based on their position in the market. Renters want more focus on their priorities including raising housing benefit levels and managing the pace of rental growth, while also improving rights and protections.

“Rent reforms are on the agenda for all parties but managing rental inflation is best achieved by growing supply through new home building as measures to control rents can reduce new investment.

“It is clear voters are well aware of the pressures on the housing market with reducing homelessness and rough sleeping and doing more to reduce empty and under-utilised homes in the top 3 priorities.

“Building more homes has the potential to start addressing many of the priorities identified in our survey with Ipsos. We have been getting closer to the 300,000 homes a year level but breaking through will require need a big political push to deliver the homes the nation needs across all housing tenures.” 

Commenting on this survey Ben Marshall, Research Director at Ipsos said:

“Our survey with Zoopla provides the public’s perspective on the next Government’s housing in-tray and how full it is! Expanding Britain’s housing supply is among top priorities, as is more efficient use of existing stock and tackling homelessness.

“This is driven by deeply-held worries – most people think finding a home to settle down in has become harder (something the Prime Minister recognised earlier in the election campaign) and that we are not keeping up with meeting the country’s housing needs. But the survey also finds a sense that the governments can affect change and facilitate an increase in the supply of new homes.”

 

*Question asked to generate data: “This list shows a selection of issues associated with housing in Britain. Which one of these, if any, do you think should be the highest priority for the next Government to deal with?”
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