THERESA MAY’S party conference pledge on social housing was both a statement of intent – and admission of failure – as the Tory party attempts to build firmer foundations for the future.
The tacit recognition that council house stocks became too depleted as a result of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ revolution in the 1980s was offset by a desire to make an additional £2bn available for affordable properties in addition to existing budgets.
Like the rest of Mrs May’s faltering premiership, the question is whether this initiative is too little and too late by a Prime Minister who is in the fight of her political life and whether it will be sufficient to earn the support of young voters in significant numbers.
At face value, this is another example of the Government following Labour’s lead. Yet the plain fact of the matter is that both major parties have failed to deliver previous promises on housing and Mrs May, at the very least, has promised to take personal ownership of
Yet it requires goodwill on the part of town halls on the availability of suitable land; the co-operation of the construction industry and, crucially, builders with the skills required to build quality homes at affordable prices.
But it goes further than this. Not only do low-cost homes need to be built at record rates to meet soaring demand amongst a generation of younger people who have been priced off the housing ladder, but the Government also needs to preside over public services that are fit for the 21st century.
For a new governing party, this would be a challenge. For a party that has been in power for seven years, and finds itself bereft of a Parliamentary majority, it’s greater still, hence the need to put its differences to one side and get on with the job.
If not, Jeremy Corbyn will be preparing for a move of his own – into Downing Street.