What do the Lib Dem and Reform UK election manifestos say on mortgages, housing and property?

A mouse pondering if the moon is made of cheese.  

Opening a rundown on the arguably dry subject of manifesto mortgage pledges with this -- a mouse pondering if the moon is made of cheese -- might be akin to bringing up an absence of Sky TV to claim you’ve known tough times; a bit odd. 

But a mouse pondering if the moon is made of cheese does indeed spring to mind, because that’s what pontificating the pledges of the Lib Dems and Reform UK is like, on mortgages, housing, property and actually just about any other area, writes John Yerou, CEO of Freelancer Financials

The moon may indeed be made of cheese. Yet the mouse will never grace the lunar surface, even with a giant leap, so what does it matter? 

Neither are the bookmakers' favourite - to say the least

Apologies to Sir Ed Davey and Nigel Farage for likening them to mice, but it illustrates how we – and the pollsters – see things, in terms of their prospects of waking up in No.10 on July 5th..  

Nonetheless these are the facts. A snap election is almost upon us, and Reform UK and Lib Dems want you to vote them into power.   

Will either party’s offerings on mortgages, housing and property warrant your tick?

What does the Lib Dem general election manifesto say about affordable housing?

Up to a point, Labour’s and the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto plans for affordable housing go toe-to-toe, both citing the need to build homes that communities actually need.  

The Lib Dems want to utilise brownfield sites, incentivising developers to build affordable and social housing. 

Their target of 380,000 new homes a year, of which 150,000 would be social housing across ten new ‘garden cities’, is also similar.  

The Lib Dems, too, will address planning bottlenecks. Councils will have the authority to buy land for housing based on what the land is worth now, not the landowner’s predictions. 

Local authorities’ planning departments will also be properly funded, allowing for the expansion of ‘neighbourhood planning’ across England.  

In addition, an Ed Davey-led government claims it would address the running cost of new homes, by making them warmer and cheaper to heat, significantly helping in the race to ‘net-zero.’ This will apparently include stripping all dangerous cladding with no cost to the tenants.  

According to the Lib Dems, developers will also have to up their game. 

Where developers are granted planning permission, they will have to ‘use it or lose it’, thereby adding a long-lost sense of urgency to affordable housing construction. 

To enable project closure, like Reform (below), the Lib Dems say they will invest in skilled workers and “new technologies” for developers.  

Where do the Lib Dems differ on mortgages, housing and property?

Where the Lib Dems differ most (including differing to the mortgage manifesto pledges of Labour and the Conservatives) is with their ‘Rent to Own’ proposal.  

This proposal is aimed at would-be homeowners who can’t afford deposits to buy a home. Instead, tenants under Rent to Own would own a larger and larger stake in their rented property over time, and eventually own it outright after 30 years.  

In theory, Rent to Own makes sense, and is tried and tested in Europe.

But that assumes that nothing changes in government and successive Parliaments support the policy.

Also concerning us, who’d ensure that the rent local authorities receive will go back into building more new affordable homes?  

Casting our mind really far back; the money from long-serving Tory PM Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy was, at least in part, used to fund the Falklands War, and not ploughed back into social housing stock as it was supposed to. The amount of available housing has never recovered. Without proper policing, Rent to Own could easily repeat history’s mistake.

What does Reform UK’s general election manifesto say about affordable housing? 

Reform are also going down the 'local people first' route. With their new housing pledge, they state: 

"Foreign nationals must go to the back of the queue. Not the front."   

Many will point to the fact that, without immigrants, the construction industry would suffer.  

But, Reform has thought of that, too.     

First, they plan to incentivise modular construction and smart infrastructure using new construction technology.     

Second, through apprenticeships and vocational courses, Reform wants to replace cheap overseas labour” with “skilled, well-paid workers.” (N.B. This pledge has mysteriously disappeared from Refrom’s recently updated manifesto but in press interviews, it is still being repeated by the party).   

Great in theory. But to us, the above begs the question: "By how much will skilled, well-paid workers increase the initial cost of homes in the first place?" 

On second homes and short-lets, Lib Dems be like… 

For second homes and short-lets, the Lib Democrats would allow local authorities to up council tax on the property by up to 500%.  

They also say they would re-categorise these properties’ planning status, as well as charging foreign buyers a Stamp Duty surcharge. 

On second homes and short-lets, Reform UK be like… 

Reform UK’s manifesto is devoid of plans on second homes and short-lets, even if we guess they’d surely not oppose the Lib Dem proposal to charge foreign buyers an SDLT surcharge!

However, somewhat related, Reform says that to “stop the offshore taxpayer rip off”, the party says it will target larger care home providers avoiding tax on “hundreds of millions” of profits, by ‘ending’ their “complex offshore property company structures.” 

What about social housing under the Lib Dems? 

The Lib Dems would set out ‘clear standards’ for social housing, including putting strict time limits on landlords to carry out repairs.  

Tenant panels would also be elevated so that their voice carries all the way to Westminster, the party pledges. 

What about Social Housing under Reform UK? 

Noteworthy, Reform would abolish the Renters' Reform Bill, arguing that the existing controls would work if they were policed correctly. 

Reform is also focusing on reviewing the planning system.

They plan to incentivise tax relief for developing brownfield sites, including unused offices and vacant high street properties.    

Reform also says it would review the existing 'Section 106', so they plan to help interested parties accelerate house-building, including affordable housing, via financial and non-financial contributions.  

Capital Gains Tax in the Lib Dem election manifesto… 

The Lib Dems want to overhaul the Capital Gains Tax structure, primarily to fund the NHS.  

Like income tax, there’d be three levels of CGT under a Lib Dem government:  

  • 20% for gains <= £50,000;  
  • 40% for gains between £50,000 and £100,000;  
  • 45% for gains > £100,000.  

Important to note here is that CGT would be charged on the gains/profit only, not on income and gains.  

By the party’s reckoning, this would mean those who are at the bottom end of the ladder would pay less. And, as this scale closes loopholes, the wealthiest 0.1% would pay a fairer share. 

Capital Gains Tax in Reform UK’s manifesto… 

Reform's nearest policy is a simple one-liner: “The tax system should encourage smaller landlords into the rental markets. Not penalise them.” 

 Maybe it’s the cynic in us but we’re beginning to wonder if Nigel Farage has found the 'magic wand' that Sir Kier Starmer repeatedly reminds us Labour doesn't have! Not a million parallels, of course, from the Tories’ “magic money tree.”

Regardless, you’ve now got not even two weeks to decides for yourself who’s manifesto pledges aren’t make-believe.

Friday 21st Jun 2024
Profile picture for user John Yerou

Written by John Yerou

John Yerou is a British executive and serial entrepreneur, who has founded a number of financial services companies. He is best known for founding Mortgage Quest, an unbiased and wholly independent financial service company. During his career, he has held the positions of director, vice director and managing director for a variety of tech-led companies, before becoming a true pioneer of independent financial services in the UK.

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email