Majority of voters back borrowing over the next year to build council homes

5th June, 2013 9:57 pm

More than half of the population are in favour of borrowing more in the next year to build more council houses and create jobs in the construction sector, according to the latest LabourList/Survation polling. 55.4% of the public would support such a plan, with only 22.5% opposed.

Such an investment in housing infrastructure to alleviate Britain’s housing crisis and provide jobs is the favoured option of voters from all major parties, across all age groups, genders, social and economic classes and regions/nations of the UK. 73.9% of Labour supporters would back such a course of action, as would 47.7% of Tories, 55% of Lib Dems and 43.2% of UKIPers.

This is the penultimate question in a set of polling data which we’ve been revealing each day this week on LabourList, as we seek to find a way towards “Securing Economic Credibility” for the party in a way that is also true to Labour values and electorally viable.

securing economic recovery housing

What is particularly interesting about this polling is the difference with what we revealed yesterday. Whilst nearly half of the population told us that they favoured higher borrowing in exchange for investment in growth and jobs, far more people supported such a plan when the kind of spending – in this case on housing – was made clear. In government Labour were able to make the case for higher National Insurance to fund the NHS, and this form of hypothecated spending pledge could be a template for how Labour acts in government – including people in the debate about how their money should be spent.

Whilst yesterday the majority of Tory supporters were against borrowing more money to fund jobs and growth, today a plan to borrow for investment in housing has a lead of nearly 17 points amongst Tory voters over the alternative (keeping borrowing down) – suggesting that this is a plan that shouldn’t be limited to Labour’s policy thinking, it could work for the Tories too, if they were minded to borrow for homes and growth, rather than borrowing as a result of strategic failure…

One final point – normally when questions are asked about housing, they revolve either around house-building as a whole or “affordable” housing. We wanted to be very clear that what we were talking about in this survey is “council housing” – built, owned and run by local authorities to serve the needs of local people. This may have depressed the numbers supporting it somewhat, but there’s still a clear plurality of voters in favour of building more council homes – and it’s a policy that resonates across the country, and across party lines.

What are you waiting for Mr Cameron? Build more homes. And if you won’t – Mr Miliband will need to…

Survation interviewed 1,121 adults aged 18 and over via online panel on May 24th 2013. The results have been weighted to the profile of all adults, and the data for the question referred to in this post can be found here

  • Hiran C Patel

    To keep with demand you’d need to build the equivalent of a city like Wolverhampton every year. How is that sustainable? Would you still be able to sell the idea of more homes to the public then?

  • Matthew Blott

    I have no issue with this and cannot understand why Labour wasn’t saying this twelve months ago. And unlike 2far2fast voters clearly understand what this means.

  • AlanGiles

    No man is a prophet in his own country, but many of us have been calling for the building of council housing for DECADES. Like others, I was concerned when the late Mrs Thatcher started to sell of the public stock and not allow councils to rebuild, back in 1980/81.

    With a landslide majority and a healthy economy in both 1997 and 2001 many of us hoped and expected Blair to institute such a policy (a legacy of housing would have been far preferable to a legacy of wars), but as Hazel Blears revealed in a rare moment of truth nobody in New Labour “was interested” in social housing – probably because they were too busy flipping their second homes and buying expensive silk furnishings at our expense.

    It makes every sort of sense, both economic and morally to build homes for people who will never be able to afford to buy one of their own, and who are currently fleeced by private landlords.

    However – the big question today – and today as I write this it is 0520BST on 6th June 2013, so I hope it appears before the summer solstice, the “Eds” are so busy with their “iron discipline” financial soundbite, will they use this as yet another excuse not to do the right thing?

    • leslie48

      I think you will find from recent speeches that the Labour leaders have both advocated capital spending on building more homes to help jobs, economic growth and supply more homes to lessen the shortage of houses which puts money in Landlord’s pockets & means the state pays housing benefits. You seem to be inventing a straw man. This is basic Labour policy.

      • AlanGiles

        “Straw man” seems to be the expression of the month on LL. One is always accused of it if you don’t toe the line.

        I find it advisable to adopt and “wait and see” policy where all politicians are concerned, because what they say this week might not be what they say next month, or if the next set of polls don’t look so good.

        Until Cruddas delivers his tablets of stone – who knows?

  • JoeDM

    I bet they’d also support the “Right to Buy” as well, if you asked them !!!

    • AlanGiles

      I don’t doubt it, Joe, but right from the start it should have been a condition that for every home sold, another for social renting should have been built to replace it with the receipts from the sales.

      It is somewhat analogous to the situation the public library service (in my area at anyrate) found itself in: in order to start to offer CDs, DVDs etc, they sold off the book stock at derisory prices (typically 20p a book). In the event the CD scheme tottered into disuse in a very short space of time, and by selling the stock – irreplaceable, out of print and valuable material in many cases at such a low price, the service lost money and restocked their shelves with cheap books, TV tie-ins etc ( many of which are so cheap they can be bought for a penny on the “Big River” website).

      They lost a vast resource virtually for nothing, and now in straightend times, textbooks and reference books which still have practical value are not there (I know you can look up facts on the internet, but sometimes a particular text book needs to be studied for some time).

      Of course, people can’t live in books, but Mrs Thatcher and Blair, not to mention Major Brown and Miliband, should have had the commonsense, or an adviser with a certain amount of grey matter to know what the result would be in constantly selling off public stock and not replenishing it.

      The current coalition’s “Help to buy” scheme, will merely cause another artificial boom in house prices, but the people at the bottom of the ladder, who are on low wages (or no wages or zero hours conbtracts) will not be helped one iota by this scheme, which has even be condemned by right-wingers.

  • david kirkup

    labour have been on about spending during this period since the coalition came about. there’s never been a better time as money credit, is at an all time low. we could have been building 1000s of private housing but more important social housing. only the party with the majority of tory mps would bring in a bedroom tax to move people with larger homes with spare bedrooms to smaller houses, but theres very few on the rental market

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  • leslie48

    Ed Milliband said the Government had “no answers to Britain’s housing crisis” and criticised the lack of house building, claiming housing completions are at their lowest level since the 1920s. Reported by the press during the Queens speech debate 16th May. Balls discussed the same issue at last years conference. Looks to me like a no brainer if we can’t promise to build more homes we may as well fold up out tents( no pun intended)


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