While most agents remain relatively tight lipped about party politics, the chief executive of Purplebricks has said the Tories should take responsibility for what he calls “the UK’s housing crisis.”
Sam Mitchell makes his comments in the light of remarks in recent days from Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who is warning that prospective first time buyers faced with a housing shortage, high deposits and rising rents may become disillusioned with democracy because they have no material stake in society.
Gove has hinted that measures in next month’s Budget may try to address that issue, but Mitchell has slammed not just the last 14 years of Conservative-led government, but also a key policy of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
Mitchell says in a statement: “The lack of housing stock in the UK is a significant factor in the difficulties faced by first-time buyers and, having gone through 16 housing ministers in 14 years, the Conservative Party must take responsibility for the situation.
“The problem has been compounding since the mass sell-off of council houses in the 1980s, without another initiative to offset the longer term impact for housing stock in the UK. With rents skyrocketing, it has been increasingly difficult for first-time buyers to save for a deposit. As a result, we’re seeing young people live at home with their families for much longer and fewer first-time buyers.
“If the government is really serious about tackling this issue, as the Housing Secretary appears to suggest, it must be clear about its commitment to build new homes, including a mass social housing building programme. This will free up the private rented sector as well as normalise rents and housing choice for tenants.”
Over last weekend Gove was trying to set the agenda with a series of media interviews and appearances.
He variously suggested that the Budget could look at low deposits and government-backed mortgage guarantees as one way to help first time buyers, as well as possible further assistance through Stamp Duty changes.
Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about the long-hyped abolition of Section 21 powers for landlords, Gove said: "We will have outlawed it and [will abolish it by the General Election and] we will have put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce that."