How to navigate the new political landscape and changing housing needs
Fresh from party conference season and against the backdrop of truly unprecedented times, Instinctif Partners chaired a lively panel to review current housing policies put forward by the main parties, and assess fresh consumer research into them, in a webinar held with dramatic timing on the day Liz Truss resigned.
Political commentator and former Government Minister David Gauke, Kelly Edwards, a former Labour councillor and Chair of Housing, and Dan Jestico, Director of Sustainable Design at Savills, provided insight on all the topical and pressing themes.
Consumers align to Labour’s promise of energy efficient homes and a social housing renaissance
Our consumer research found that Labour’s announced housing policies appear most in tune with what the public wants, with the pledges for a first-time buyer mortgage guarantee scheme, making social housing the second largest tenure, and achieving 70% homeownership seen as the three most popular routes to solving the current housing shortage.
In addition, consumers view large build-to-rent companies as best placed to address the shortage, more than social housing or private housebuilders, a result Kelly Edwards said was surprising and indicated how widespread the public feels the housing shortage is.
In contrast to Labour’s clarity on a broad policy agenda, the Government’s policy, other than the previously announced stamp duty cut, was presented as “work in progress” with no firm commitments to housebuilding targets, social housing policy or sustainable home energy policy, and even the promised planning reform to get more homes built ”in the right way” is to be outlined at a later date.
Reflecting on the contrasting positions of the Government and Opposition, David Gauke commented that Labour’s proposed first-time buyer mortgage guarantee scheme would carry more risk and cost as an intervention if the volatile economic environment continued.
Energy efficiency on home building – parties’ commitments to net zero
Savill’s Dan Jestico commented that both parties expressed a commitment to achieving net zero but other than Labour’s support to energy efficiency retrofitting of older properties, there is a lack of focus on how we get there, and with the high costs involved, a definite commitment is needed to incentivise consumers to retrofit.
However, our consumer research showed very strong support for energy efficient homes, with 90% of respondents saying that a home’s efficiency rating would be important to them the next time they looked to move, and 49% specifically saying this was motivated by a need for increased certainty over energy access, inevitably reflecting the current energy pricing and supply crisis. The Future Homes Standard of 2025 is set to ban gas fired boilers in new homes, but the research findings indicate that housebuilders could pre-empt this by supporting ultra-efficient buildings to meet consumer concerns.
By contrast, the results of other poll questions reflected the ongoing uncertainty in our political and economic climate. While consumers had no definitive answer as to who they thought was best placed to adequately address the housing shortage, with 42% saying large companies building homes to rent, compared to 36% choosing social housing providers and 34% suggesting large private housebuilders, this does show the complex needs of different regions and demographics, indicating that while the housing crisis is a real and overarching issue, the solutions must be varied and tailored.
Responses were also split on the most significant barriers to ownership, although this may be more indicative of the extent of the macroeconomic issues prospective buyers currently face. Rising interest rates and lack of affordable homes were seen as most problematic by 42% each, and 37% blamed high deposits. What is clear is that buyers are having to confront a litany of problems that, at least in the case of interest rates, may get worse still; certainly one lesson to take from the Truss government’s mini-budget is that moving away from the relatively loose monetary policy of the immediate Covid-era needs to be done very carefully indeed.
In the face of these difficult issues, the importance of finding common ground was the key advice from our panel. As businesses continue to navigate the choppy waters of our current political landscape, pragmatism and empathy are essential for public and corporate life, and the only ways to ensure satisfaction across all stakeholders.
Having a dialogue with policy makers at the national and local levels, as well as engaging with the opposition and preparing for a potential change of Government, are of prime importance. At a local level, community outreach, engagement, and a willingness to co-operate are all crucial in delivering housing and development schemes.
Real estate virtual panel with David Gauke
NB: This event took place on 20th October 2022
Join Instinctif Partners and innovators from across the real estate sector for the latest insights fresh from the party conferences and hear new analysis on the UK’s housing needs.
With rising interest rates, soaring energy costs, rampant inflation and a divided political landscape to navigate (including the growing possibility of a Labour Government in the foreseeable future), businesses need to carefully consider their messaging to all external stakeholders.
Rt Hon David Gauke, Instinctif Senior Advisor and former Cabinet Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will sit on a virtual panel with senior advisors from across the industry to provide guidance on how to navigate these changes, while discussing:
- What does exclusive, real-time research tell us about consumers’ housing needs and wants?
- What do the latest party conference housing policies and ideas mean for the future?
- What steps can businesses take to prepare for a potential change in Government?
- How far are consumers prioritising energy consumption in their property searches?
- What should brands keep in mind to remain relevant in these challenging times?
Please note, the event will operate Chatham House Rules.