MPs accept they can deal with the housing crisis – it’s time we saw this reflected in policy
As housing professionals, we often talk about the housing crisis, but what about the general public – the voters who will decide the outcome of the forthcoming general election?
When Ipsos MORI carried out a survey for us last month (January 2015), we found out just how widely the housing crisis is being felt. Three-quarters of the British public think there is a housing crisis in Britain. Perhaps not surprisingly, people living in London and renters (both private and social) are feeling the situation even more deeply, with eight out 10 agreeing that we have a housing crisis in Britain.
Ipsos MORI asked the same question of MPs – and two thirds agree there is a housing crisis in Britain. MPs also accepted that they have the power to change this situation – 86% disagree with the statement that ‘there isn’t much that British governments can do to deal with Britain’s housing problems’. It’s time we saw those sentiments being reflected in policy. We know that the government has the power to make a huge difference – by setting a national house building target, for example – so our challenge to all the parties ahead of the election is to show us what they could do to help, and commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation.
Our poll also highlighted one of the biggest challenges for the Homes for Britain campaign. While most people agreed there is a housing crisis in Britain, fewer felt that same sense of crisis in their local area (75% compared with 46%). I think this is because many people don’t see their personal circumstances as part of the housing crisis, even if they are directly affected – if they’re still living with their parents because they can’t afford to move out, for example, or if they’re having to put up with poor conditions in the private rented sector because they have no other option.
Our challenge is to show people how the housing crisis is affecting them – and if not them then their family, friends or neighbours. But we also need to demonstrate that this is a political problem, not just a personal one. MPs have the power to do something about it – but it is only if people start demanding change that they will sit up and take notice.
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