Rishi Sunak told Conservatives risk ‘losing a generation of voters’ over lack of new housing

Rishi Sunak has been told that the Conservative Party risks “losing a generation of voters” if the government does not build more houses. 

Sir Brandon Lewis, a former cabinet minister who also served as housing minister from 2014 to 2016, told Sky News yesterday that he is now using his time as a backbencher to encourage the building of more homes.

He said: “I think there is a real risk, because why would a young person look to the Conservative Party? What is the economic offer?

“When I was young, you wanted to grow up and own your own home – we know for a fact the majority of people in this country want to own their own home if they don’t already.”

“So I think we’ve always been the party of homeownership – I think we should be the party of homeownership.

“That means we need to build houses. And I would argue of all tenures, affordable, social, private, rented, and that creates more ability for people to then own their own home as well.”

He argued that his views were supported by polling by JL Partners, commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute think tank. The research found 77 per cent of people think there is a housing crisis, with younger people were more likely to think there was a crisis.

Sir Brandon’s comments come after Michael Gove watered down the government’s 300,000 homes-per-year target following pressure from backbench “NIMBY”, or “not in my back yard”, Conservative MPs.

Sunak has since been accused of dropping the Party’s national housebuilding targets altogether. 

Housing looks set to be a key dividing line at the next election, with Keir Starmer pledging to build an extra 300,000 new homes every year if elected to government.

Asked by the BBC in October whether Labour’s plans made him a “YIMBY” — “yes in my back yard” — Starmer replied: “I am, yes. I think that it’s very important that we build the homes that we need for the future; hugely, hugely important for the aspiration of young people who desperately want to get on the housing ladder … a massive failure for the last 13 years.”

In his speech to Labour Party Conference this year, the Labour Leader vowed to recapture the dream of homeownership with help for first time buyers and new infrastructure to support families and communities.

Starmer promised “shovels in the ground and cranes in the sky” to deliver “more beautiful cities [and] more prosperous towns”, adding that: “A future must be built.”

He pledged “Opportunities for first time buyers in every community. New development corporations with the power to remove the blockages. New infrastructure to support families and communities to grow. Roads, tunnels, power stations – built quicker and cheaper.”

Sir Brandon Lewis insisted yesterday that having served as a councillor, he knows the “most impactful thing” a politician can get from a constituent is a planning application “people don’t like”.

He called for the government to create “a planning system that’s efficient and effective, gives local people a voice, but also is able to engage with local people about the advantages and the necessity of housing”.

“100,000 homes build is worth at least 1% of GDP, depending on how you calculate supply lines – maybe 3%, you could argue – of GDP”, he told Sky News.

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