Could Housing Help Decide the Next General Election?
Affordable housing used to be a rite of passage. People who were lucky enough to be born in the 60s, 70s and 80s grew up knowing that owning a home would be a probability, not a possibility. For many people in the 21st-century, the latter is a pipe dream. By 2016, the number of men and women who owned their homes dropped by a staggering 9.9 percentage points from 73.3% in 2007 to 63.4%.
The number of renters skyrocketed, too, with a 63% increase in the number of renters in 2017, compared to 2007. Society has voiced its concerns for a long while, yet nothing seems to have changed for the better. However, according to the bookmakers’ odds, it appears the voices of the many are finally being heard.
Keir Starmer’s Manifesto
In 2019, Keir Starmer ran on a Labour party manifesto, which among other things, focused on delivering radical housing policies. He swept to power, taking the role of the leader of the opposition very easily. Currently, Starmer is relentlessly telling Johnson and the public that his plans aren’t enough, causing political betting odds to shrink to 7/4 for Keir Starmer to be the new Prime Minister after Boris Johnson.
Unlike other Labour leaders, he appears to be making headway with voters throughout the country. The Youthquake of the 2019 General election is still very much with him, which isn’t surprising considering they are affected the most by a lack of affordable housing.
In comparison to Starmer’s chances of being named the next Prime Minister, the usual Conservative front runners, including Michael Gove (15/2), are less fancied, highlighting how Starmer’s housing focus is helping him in the court of public opinion.
Rishi Sunak’s Rise
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has risen to stardom since his appointment in 2019. There are lots of reasons why people like him, from his ability to spend money, which makes him appear opposed to austerity, down to his youthful vibe and demeanour.
As a result, Sunak is currently 21/10 favourite to be installed as the next leader of the Conservative party. And it’s no coincidence that it is off the back of the funding his area of government has found for the Affordable Homes Programme. While Keir Starmer has been using it to attack the Prime Minister, Sunak has used the scheme to distance himself from the administration.
After all, Johnson has been criticised for his inability to act decisively, whereas the Chancellor has allocated £9.5 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme to support the creation of affordable homes across England. Because of this, Sunak is the one receiving the lion’s share of the praise, leading to a shot in the arm for his approval ratings as he is now the most popular Chancellor since Denis Healey in 1978. This has not only caused his odds of being the next PM to drop but also led to speculation from the bookies that he will be sworn in before the end of the year (10/1).
Many factors will decide the outcome of the next general election. Still, it’s clear from the bookmakers’ odds that affordable housing is impacting the betting. When you combine the fact that Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak have targeted the area (for different reasons) with the stat that 50% of renters have expressed anxiety about their housing situation, you can see why it’s a big deal for voters.