As hundreds of renters gathered in Westminster yesterday to take part in Rent Freedom Day, a new poll we commissioned from Survation revealed how big an impact housing could have on the election - if politicians made it a priority.
Almost two fifths of voters (38%) would back a party that made housing one of its top three priorities, the poll found. It also revealed that the housing crisis is now affecting a majority of Britons, with 57% saying they, or someone they know, is struggling to buy or rent a suitable home.
Half (50%) of private renters are struggling to buy, while 43% say they are struggling to rent a suitable home, indicating that their current situation is difficult to live with.
A third of home owners (35%) say they know someone who is struggling to buy, which shows that many of those with the security of their own home are aware that there is a problem.
Asked how they would respond if a party made housing one of its top three priorities for the next Parliament, 38% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for them compared with 12% who would be less likely to vote for the party. Housing is a swing issue for the General Election, with 44% of undecided voters more likely to vote for a party that made housing a priority. Among private renters, 59% would be more likely to vote for a party that makes housing a priority.
When respondents were asked which party had the best policies to help people struggling to buy a home, Labour came out on top with 21% to the Conservatives’ 18%, but dwarfing both those figures, 47% said they didn’t know. Half (50%) said they didn’t know which party had the best policies to help people struggling to rent a home; the same proportion of private renters couldn’t identify the best party either.
Respondents were asked if they agreed that the government’s housing policy had helped private renters and was on track to solve the housing crisis. Just over a fifth (22%) agreed, compared to 37% who disagreed. Unsurprisingly, Conservative voters were more likely to agree (37%) and Labour voters more likely to disagree (46%), but Liberal Democrat voters were less likely to agree that the coalition had been good for renters – 30% agreed compared to 51% who disagreed.
From the private tenant struggling to make the monthly rent, to the home owner whose children can’t buy their first home, the housing crisis is looming over Britain and it’s not going away under this government. Voters want a party that will make housing a priority, but when half of them don’t even know who is offering the best deal it’s clear that politicians are not taking it seriously enough.
At yesterday's Hustings, representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens had a go at pitching their housing solutions to our audience of renters, but it will take a lot more work to get through to voters by May.