Tory and Lib Dem Housing Policies - Spot The Difference

Let’s get real about a Conservative-Lib Dem deal, formal or informal – it will be about the economy and PR, not housing issues.

But my analysis early in the campaign that Lib Dem housing ambitions were closer to the Conservatives’ than Labour’s holds good now that a hung parliament is here.

The Liberal Democrats:

• want HIPs to end and EPCs to remain. The Tories want much the same and the two parties could easily come to an accommodation on this;

• oppose eco-towns but want stricter eco-criteria for new-build homes – unspecified aspirations which the Tories have voiced in a similarly vague way;

• want a mansion tax on homes above £2m - the Tories would oppose it but don't rule out a compromise;

• want to sharply reduce numbers of quangos with development powers in favour of elected local authorities – very like the Tories;

• want to build “tens of thousands of affordable homes to rent” with a local bottom-up planning philosophy that would be quite unpopular with the new-build industry but fits in well with the Grant Shapps philosophy of the past two years;

• want grants for some 250,000 empty homes to come back into use by incentivising owners. The Tories have very gingerly suggested the same thing, and for both parties this would avoid much conflict with middle-class NIMBY voters;

• want to scrap regional housing targets – again, Tories are happy with this;

• want VAT on new-build homes. The Conservatives criticised this during the election campaign…but might like the revenue it would bring in. Nonetheless, this seems the single most obvious clash between the two prospective governing parties;

• want to control the numbers of second homes through zoning. Again, this is a clash as the Conservatives are quietly supportive of second homes and certainly would not want to openly curtail them. But this will never be a major legislative priority in a parliament consumed with closing a budget deficit the size of Britain’s.

So it’s possible that, if somehow the Conservatives and the Lib Dems create a pact for a short-term or long-term government they could certainly live with each other on housing. Of course, that accommodation is easier because neither of the two actually have extensive policies on the subject.

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