Housing policies popular but people lack confidence anyone will deliver

All parties’ major housing policies are popular, but the public also have strong doubts that anyone will improve housing if elected.

The author(s)

  • Ben Marshall Public Affairs
  • Becky Pinnington Data Journalist
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According to the latest data from Ipsos MORI’s political campaign tracker, housing will be a key factor in deciding how to vote for 23% of the British public.

However, although the Labour Party is the most trusted party on housing, the majority are not confident in any of the main political parties’ ability to improve housing in the next government.

And the most popular housing policy Ipsos MORI polled is part of the Conservative platform -- an “infrastructure first” policy of building schools, hospitals and other community infrastructure before building new homes.

How much does Britain care about housing?

According to Ipsos MORI’s political campaign tracker, the issue of housing will help some 23% of Britons decide who to vote for. This puts it 11th out of 23. Those more likely to see it as an issue are 25-34 year olds (28%), those in London (32%) and past Labour voters (33%).

According to Ipsos MORI’s issues index, in November 2019, 15% of Britons named housing as one of the key problems facing Britain at the moment. Compared to issues such as Brexit (57%) and the NHS (54%) this may seem like a small proportion.

Indeed, housing is a second order issue for the British public. However, together with poverty/inequality, concern around housing has more than doubled since the 2010 general election. Recent data shows that housing is of more concern to the British public than unemployment or the economy. Before 2017, the last time housing was of more concern than the economy was in 2007.

 

Although concern around housing has increased, most people are unsure of political parties’ housing policies. Asked whether they agree with the statement, “I know a lot about the political parties’ policies on housing”:

  • 24% agree
  • 36% disagree
  • 33% neither agree nor disagree
  • 6% don’t know

Will the next government fix housing?

Voters do believe that governments could do something to fix housing issues in Britain. 58% of those polled disagree with the statement, “There isn’t much that British governments can do to deal with the country’s housing problems,” including 27% who strongly disagree.

However, the public does not feel the political parties pay attention to housing issues. Just 18% agree that, “The political parties pay a lot of attention to housing,” while 46% disagree.

 

Although the public feels governments could improve the state of housing, a majority lack confidence in each of the three main parties to improve housing if they make it into government.

The Labour Party commands the most confidence in this area, as 37% say they are confident a Labour government would improve housing in Britain, including 13% who are very confident in Labour. However 53% say they are not confident in Labour, while 10% are unsure.

Those who voted Labour at the 2017 general election are more confident in Labour’s ability to deliver in government than past Conservatives and Liberal Democrats of their ‘own’ parties – 70% vs 57% and 54% respectively.

Confidence in Labour to deliver on housing in government is as high as 45% among past Lib Dem voters -- only a little short of the 54% who are confident in their own party.

How do we feel about housing policy?

Most housing policies are fairly popular among the public. Of seven policies polled, six command >50% support. For these six, more people said they would neither support nor oppose the policy than said they opposed the policy.

 

The Conservatives’ “infrastructure first” policy commands the most support (75%), followed by Labour’s rent controls policy (71%). Both of these policies have net support from all 2017 voter groups, and from both remain and leave voters.

The Conservatives’ extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants is the least popular of the policies polled, although generally more people support than oppose it. It commands most support among young people -- 61% of 18-24 year olds, and 55% of 25-34 year olds would support the move. Extending Right to Buy is also popular in London, with 56% net support. This likely reflect these groups’ stronger concerns about home ownership.

Past Labour voters are particularly attracted to the range of policies – for example, more support Conservative ‘First Homes’ and ‘Help to Rent’ than Conservative and Lib Dem past voters respectively.

Technical Note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,126 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted online via Ipsos MORI’s Online Omnibus between 29th November – 2nd December 2019.

Data are weighted by region, social grade, age, working status and education to match the profile of the population.

Questions asked formed part of a wider survey for Ipsos MORI’s Campaign Tracker. Percentage scores are shown out of 100%. Where figures do not add up to 100%, this is due to computer rounding. An asterisk indicates a score less than 0.5%, but greater than zero. Combined figures are based on the constituent parts (e.g. % agree = % strongly agree + % tend to agree). These figures are also subject to the effect of rounding.

When party housing policies were described to respondents, the party sponsoring each policy was not provided.

The author(s)

  • Ben Marshall Public Affairs
  • Becky Pinnington Data Journalist

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