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JONATHAN ROLANDE:  Ignoring the property crisis damages all of us.

If, like me, you watched the two party leaders battle it out in the first head-to-head debate you’ll have noticed that housing barely got a mention. The format didn’t help, short answers were required, and predictably there was a lot of interrupting and overtalking.

It’s a pity. 

One of the main results of this is that housing did not get the airtime it needed.


Yet it played a part in almost everything that was debated on Tuesday night. The poor state of our housing market and many of the houses themselves is integral to the problems we face—inflation, the climate, energy security, immigration, health, and social care.

The effects of the housing crisis were questioned but the root cause was glossed over.

I suspect that because neither leader has all of the answers, there is an unspoken agreement to let it stay on the periphery of debate. 

To fix the crisis, we need many more than the magical and much-missed target of 300,000 new homes a year. 

Yes, 300,000 would be welcome but would really only keep pace with current demand. Building the required amount will take political courage, and many party supporters will be upset by what they see as overdevelopment.

I am also increasingly wondering if politicians are pondering whether there are even sufficient votes to make it worth solving the crisis?

The average first-time buyer is now 35 so we can assume that people below this age are living with family or are tenants – so-called Generation Rent.

On average just 54% of this group vote at all, compared to 83% in the 65 to 74 bracket. Upsetting older voters with planning reform or drastic changes to assured shorthold tenancies may not be worth the political risk when nearly half of the beneficiaries don’t vote at all.

For the Conservatives, the issue is even more obvious. In May, Statista revealed that of the half of below 24s that vote, just 7% would vote Tory. Of the 65+ age group, 42% are blue.

Something else struck me as I was studying the stats.


Usually a party such as Reform – a political disruptor if ever there was one – would be the preserve of the older, disillusioned Conservative voter. You know the type, the kind of people who think the country has gone to the dogs, is too cushy for those not willing to work hard and immigration is the primary source of our troubles.

18% of over 65s intended to vote for them in May, and that was before Nigel Farage decided to stand.

But what surprised me was the number of young people looking to this new political force. 11% of 18-to 24-year-olds intend to vote Reform and if the latest polling figures are to be believed this could be about to grow. 

To me, this smacks of disillusionment with traditional politics and a growing sense of hopelessness—young people seem to bear the burden of work, tax, expensive further education, and slimmed-down services without the payoff their parents and grandparents had—a job for life, a decent pension, and, crucially, a home of their own.

Politicians are walking a tightrope and have to decide which votes they must sacrifice.

But it seems clear to me that ignoring the housing crisis will have severe repercussions that will affect us all.

I hope that in this election we see a far higher proportion of younger people vote. 

I hope we see them at the ballot box rather than hurling McDonald's milkshakes.

Only that way will they, and their housing be given the attention that they desperately need.


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