Your Voice, Your Vote: ‘How do I get on the housing ladder?’


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Many people have got in touch with the BBC via Your Voice, Your Vote to say that housing is the most important issue for them in this general election.

The BBC’s cost of living correspondent Kevin Peachey answers your questions on this topic, plus other personal finance matters.

‘What will parties do to help homebuyers?’

Daniel, 32, from Nottinghamshire wants to know how the main parties will help people like him get on the housing ladder. He and his partner both work full-time and rent their home privately. They feel “penalised for something that’s not our fault and would like to own our own home one day”.

One of the biggest issues for voters in this election is housing – and the parties are fully aware of this. When pressed by the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted that owning a home has become more difficult.

There are a range of policies floated by the various parties aimed at movers and first-time buyers – from building more homes, helping with the deposit, abolishing stamp duty for some buyers and so on.

Don’t forget, some housing policy is devolved, so decisions are not made entirely in Westminster. My colleague Douglas Fraser has written about the situation in Scotland.

All these policies will need to go under the microscope. Promises to build require levels of construction not seen for decades.

Help with deposits doesn’t address whether new buyers can cope with high mortgage rates. Stamp duty isn’t paid by most first-time buyers in many areas of the country.

‘What are the parties going to do about absurd rent prices?’

Yasmin from Greater Manchester wants to know how parties are going to bring down rent so professionals in their 30s don’t have to house-share.

We’ve had some new, official figures on the cost of renting a home. Average rents paid to private landlords in the UK rose by 8.7% in the year to June.

That’s a big rise compared with the norm of the last decade, but the rate has slowed over recent months.

The National Residential Landlords Association says there is a “chronic shortage” of homes to rent, with lots of tenants chasing each home.

That’s why rents have risen sharply. It’s about supply and demand.

While analysts think these increases will continue to slow, there are wider issues tied into parties’ housing policies overall – such as whether enough homes, specifically to rent, are being built.

‘Will any party change inheritance tax?’

Sharon thinks the threshold at which people pay inheritance tax should be raised to keep up with house prices, but none of the parties seem likely to change the rules.

You are correct to point out that there is relatively little mention of inheritance tax in the manifestos. Some commentators claim it is the most “hated” tax in the UK, but – of course – that depends entirely on who you ask!

Labour wants to crack down on inheritance tax avoidance. The Green Party wants to reform it to make it fairer. Reform wants to abolish it for estates under £2bn.

How any of this can be achieved or paid for is open to scrutiny.

It is worth remembering that only 4% of estates were subject to inheritance tax following deaths in 2020-21. However, rising wealth and a frozen threshold mean this proportion is rising.

‘Why do parties always say they want to cut taxes?’

Peter Green wonders why putting up taxes is such a sensitive issue for the main parties. He thinks taxes should rise to improve public services given the “dreadful state” of the NHS, roads and public transport

This issue is at the heart of the election campaign, and I’d heartily recommend this piece from my colleague Faisal Islam on economic credibility.

Each party makes general promises on tax and spending on public services in their manifesto. Of course, the real detail comes from a party in power when a chancellor delivers a Budget.

Remember, while the two main parties say they won’t raise tax rates, the reality is that – by freezing income tax thresholds – more people are being drawn into paying more in income tax. Overall, the tax burden on us all will rise under either of them.

Smaller parties, perhaps for political reasons, are a touch more confident in saying they will raise certain taxes to spend on certain services.

‘How do we stimulate the housing market?’

Krista from Nottingham wants to know what policies might stimulate the housing market to encourage economic growth in a currently stagnant UK economy.

The housing market is, indeed, reflective of the UK economy as a whole. The cost of living, job security, interest rates, and just general economic confidence all have an impact on people’s decisions on whether or not to buy or sell a home.

The sector has been relatively subdued recently, mostly because of relatively high mortgage rates. That’s meant little movement in house prices which, after seeing them soar, will be a relief to some first-time buyers.

Stamp duty relief is a lever that chancellors like to pull to stimulate the sector. That’s a specific policy stated by the Conservatives and Reform.

But the housing market alone will not create the kind of economic growth that all parties want to see, which is why their wider economic policies are coming under a great deal of scrutiny.

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