Ignoring renters could cost the Conservative Party the next election, according to new Generation Rent analysis.
On current trends, a third of parliamentary seats – including 96 held by the Tories – could be decided by the renter vote in 2020, but aside from vague plans to increase home ownership, the government currently has no plans to improve the lives of renters.
Our October 2014 analysis of the 2001 and 2011 censuses predicts that the proportion of the population renting from social and private landlords will rise from 35% in 2011 to 39% by 2021.
Renters are more likely to be floating voters than owner occupiers. A poll by Survation in April found that 30% of renters considered themselves likely to vote for a different party at future elections from the one they planned to vote for on 7th May. The proportion of home owners who said this was 23%.
We have used the ONS electorate records to estimate the number of renters likely to be floating voters in 2020 and identified 231 seats where this number is greater than the majority in this month’s election – where renters could hold the deciding vote.
Of the 231 new “Renter Marginals”, 96 are held by the Conservatives; Labour has 102, the SNP 15, the Lib Dems 7 (all but 1 of their MPs), UKIP and Plaid Cymru 1 apiece, with 8 in Northern Ireland.
The same Survation poll found that while 63% of private renters want to move into owner occupation or social housing in the next five years, two thirds of those think that is unlikely to happen – equivalent to 1.95m of the UK’s 4.75m private renter households.
During the election campaign, Chancellor George Osborne set the government a target of 500,000 first time buyers per year. The last time we saw this rate was 2002 and the average price of the first home was £104,000. You can now expect to pay £206,000.
On the basis that renting is both here to stay and needs drastic improvement, last week, Generation Rent offered the government a strategy to fix the housing crisis focusing on better regulation, investment, and weaning the country off rising house prices.
If the Conservatives want to reverse the decline of home ownership they are going the wrong way about it. Their plans to subsidise demand for homes will only exacerbate the house price bubble and the number of people stuck renting will continue to rise.
If they want to stay in power, they need to offer a better deal to the millions who have no option but to rent for years to come – while taking meaningful steps to increase house building.
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