Cameron & Miliband neck-and-neck on housing policy say voters

Cameron holds narrow lead on key election issue – but Miliband wins hearts of first-time buyers says poll

David Cameron and Ed Miliband are neck-and-neck on the key election issue of housing according to a new poll released today.

The figures, which polled 1,000 potential voters including both owner-occupiers and renters, show that the “General Election on Property” is too close to call just seven weeks from polling day.

The Conservatives hold a marginal lead with 28% saying they’d boost the housing market more, compared to Labour’s 24%. Worryingly for Nick Clegg, UKIP (7%) and The Green Party (6%) knock the Liberal Democrats into fifth place, with a mere 5% believing they would have the most positive affect on the market.

42% of voters don’t feel any of the party leaders understand their concerns on housing, which may point to poor voter turn-out on May 7th.

The Conservatives have their strongest support in the over 55’s, with 37% believing they would most positively affect the housing market. Labour’s strongest support is amongst voters aged 18-24, with 33% believing policies, such as introducing fixed-term tenancies and freeing up greenfield sites for house-building, make them best placed to solve the UK’s housing issues.

The analysis, which was conducted by QualitySolicitors in partnership with the University of York, also explored voters’ perceptions of the main five party leaders in relation to the housing market and included an analysis of the likely impact of each party’s policies on the housing market were they to be elected.

Leader perception

The analysis found that the battle between leader’s personalities is also on a knife-edge. David Cameron (21%) is marginally viewed as the party leader who best understands people’s housing concerns, followed by Ed Miliband (19%). Nick Clegg rises to joint-third on housing when judged on personality, tied with Nigel Farage of UKIP on 7%.  

The research also indicated that Ed Miliband is viewed as the ‘man of the first time buyer’, with 28% believing he would do the most to help people get on the ladder, followed by David Cameron on 27%. The Green Party’s housing policies score best amongst voters aged 25-34, whilst UKIP’s core housing vote is aged 35-44.

Professor Martin Smith, Professor of Politics at the University of York, who developed the report, comments, "The Conservatives have reinforced their core vote through a commitment to tax concessions for higher earners and ongoing pension reform. Labour and Liberal Democrat policy of boosting house prices in the regions through house-building programmes and the devolution of economic powers is their way of attempting to create a clear difference in their approach. It is apparent that voters have a very clear decision to make on the 7th May.

Professor Smith’s predictions

Professor Smith’s analysis of the five main parties’ housing policy lead him to make three predictions for the future housing market after the 2015 General Election:

1. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ goes from strength to strength

Ongoing pension reform and a reduction in inheritance tax is likely to see a continued rise in the number of parents helping their offspring get on the property ladder. We are also likely to see more complex models for property ownership as people become just as likely to buy and live with their friends, parents or even grandparents.

2. The beginning of the end of ‘buy-to-let’

This increase in multi-home ownership in one family will also reduce the number of ‘buy-to-let- transactions in the market. In addition, Labour’s plan to reduce building restrictions and introduce greater regulation on private landlords is likely to make ‘buy-to-let’ investments a less attractive proposition.

3. Boost to the English regions

Labour and the Liberal Democrats commitment to infrastructure projects like HS2 and plan to empower local authorities is likely to see affluence spread from London and the South East. An election that fails to deliver an outright Conservative majority is likely to see regional house prices boosted in the medium term. 

Professor Smith, continues; “It is clear that ‘buy-to-let’ is going to become an increasingly unattractive option in the medium term. All parties have woken up to the housing shortage across the country, so a cross-party consensus on the need to build hundreds of thousands of homes is going to increase supply in the market. This, coupled with increased landlord regulation and tax-breaks for higher earners, is likely to see an increase in Bank of Mum and Dad style arrangements at the expense of the buy-to-let market.

Mansion tax and stamp duty

Few voters have sympathy for the plight of the ‘Squeezed Upper’ faced with the prospect of Ed Miliband’s mansion tax.  A third (34%) believe these homeowners will easily be able to afford it, whilst only 15% of those polled see mansion tax impacting people’s living standards.

The policy analysis found that ‘mansion tax’ would have the biggest affect outside London, as the capital’s house prices are now more affected by international trade & oil prices than domestic policy. 36% of voters felt that the recent stamp duty reforms had a positive affect on their personal circumstances.

Impact of pension reform

The research showed that voters expect the pension reforms, which come into affect in April 2015, have an impact the property market. One in four (24%) voters believe that pension reforms will drive up property prices, with 34% expecting there will be no real affect. The policy analysis showed that current Conservative policy, of reducing inheritance tax alongside pension reform, is likely to see an immediate boost to property prices under their government.

Richard Carter, conveyancing expert at QualitySolicitors comments, "Our policy analysis shows that whatever the outcome of the General Election, the housing market will see major changes in the coming months. Whether it's the shift away from buy-to-let, increased parental involvement in first time property purchases or more market movement in the regions, what is clear is that the way people buy houses is becoming increasingly fragmented and complex. For the consumer all this market movement and rapid change can feel overwhelming. That’s why we offer free initial assessment to help our customers make sense of their situation – whether the UK wakes up red or blue on Friday 8th May. "

- Notes to Editors -

The QualitySolicitors housing market General Election research was conducted in February 2015 by OnePoll and asked over 1000 UK respondents for their views.

About QualitySolicitors:

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