Failure to get people on the property ladder is a ‘political crisis for the Conservative Party’ warns East Cambs Council leader

Councillor Charles Roberts

Councillor Charles Roberts - Credit: Archant

Council leader Charles Roberts believes that the growing numbers unable to get on the property ladder is a ‘political crisis’ for the Conservative Party that could lead to less people turning out to vote for them.

“This isn’t just a crisis for those who are unable to realise their dreams, it’s also a political crisis for the Conservative Party,” he says.

“Those who own their own homes are overwhelmingly more likely to vote Conservative therefore it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a declining level of home-owners does nothing to increase the number of people who are prepared to vote Conservative.”

Cllr Roberts, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council and the deputy mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, outlines his thoughts in a 1,200 word article for his party’s website Conservative Home.

“Ely has grown significantly as a direct result of the overheating leading to significant increase in house prices meaning that many of the people who work in Ely can no longer afford to live there,” he says.

“What we are seeing here is an endless cycle of displacement. A cycle where more and more people cannot afford to live in the place where they work and as a consequence spend more and more of their own time and money travelling to and from work.

“We need to find a way of using planning policy to prioritise new homes, across all tenures for those who work locally”.

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He says: “We need to find a way of linking the availability of new homes to place of work. In East Cambridgeshire we have already done this for affordable rental homes through the Community Land Trust model and holding properties in a trust. “

But he warns that “what we haven’t done is look at how this approach could be tied to open market housing through covenant”.

One idea might to look at where retirement properties are only available to those of retirement age and agricultural occupancy conditions allow only those earning their living from agriculture.

Cllr Roberts says that such significant interventions in the property market and planning system might not sit comfortably with all free market Conservatives. “However, if we’re to break the cycle of people having to live further and further away from where they work we need to be prepared to think outside the box,” he says

“The current approach is not working. Fresh thinking is required.”