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Tory leadership race: Candidates urged to commit to housebuilding targets

The Tory leadership candidates have been urged to not forget about housing as the race to be the new Prime Minister heats up.

Five candidates remain before a ballot will whittle it down to a front-two for party members to consider over the summer.

Rishi Sunak, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat are in the final five.

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The MPs have spoken out on issues such as tax cuts and so-called culture wars, but little has been said on housing.

Richard Fearon, chief executive of Leeds Building Society has called on each candidate to pledge to keep the Tory’s General Election manifesto target of building 300,000 new homes every year.

His letter highlights how supply is a vital factor in addressing the difficulties faced by people looking to buy the home they want.

The 2019 General Election manifesto included targets of building a million more homes in this parliament and 300,000 homes a year by the middle of this decade, a figure which was last reached in 1977.

Fearon said: “We regularly see first time buyers and those trying to move up the property ladder facing huge challenges in achieving their home ownership ambitions.

“There are lots of factors at play but the lack of housing supply remains a major obstacle and it needs the Government to be loud and clear in its commitment in overcoming it.

“We’ve seen increasing talk about the need to focus house building only in specific areas but diluting the overarching target sends the wrong signal: this is a crisis that requires big and bold ambition.”

The letter highlights how the expected end of the Help to Buy scheme at the end of this year will reduce support for first time buyers and how the increasing cost of living will make it even harder for people to afford a mortgage.

It also emphasises the positive impact house building can have on economic growth, with the housing targets expected to create £14.2 billion of economic activity and 260,000 additional jobs.

Fearon added: “We are entering a considerable period of economic uncertainty with average household incomes getting squeezed tighter than we’ve seen for decades. Supporting our housing infrastructure would create valuable growth opportunities for the country, create jobs and give hope for the millions of people unable to make home ownership a reality.”

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