General Election 2024: What do the manifestos say about the housing crisis?

Dr Anandadeep Mandal takes us through what the main parties' manifestos say about housing, from building to owning, and renting.

A row of estate agent signs 'for sale' and 'to let'

Housing is one of the biggest challenges an incoming government of any colour, will need to address. Now all the manifestos for the main parties have been launched, we can take a more detailed look at how they plan to deal with the housing crisis. The housing policies set forth by the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens showcase varied strategies to tackle the UK's housing crisis, and each party has distinct priorities and approaches.

Building homes

The Conservative manifesto commits to constructing 1.6 million new homes in the upcoming parliament but does not reinstate the mandatory housing targets for councils that were abandoned in 2023. This strategy emphasizes the total number of homes built but lacks local accountability. This could result in unequal distribution and neglect of areas with the greatest need. On the other hand, Labour plans to reinstate these local housebuilding targets, making councils accountable for addressing specific housing requirements. Their approach includes permitting selective development on the green belt, striking a balance between environmental considerations and the need for additional housing, and implementing extensive planning reforms to lower compulsory purchase order expenses. This indicates a more centralized yet adaptable approach to fulfilling housing needs.

The Liberal Democrats propose a strong commitment to social housing, aiming to construct 150,000 new social rent homes each year. This ambitious goal underscores their dedication to mitigating the severe shortage of affordable rental housing and ensuring accessibility for all income levels. Plaid Cymru’s pledge for a "right to adequate housing" reflects a rights-based approach, treating housing as an essential human right. This policy likely includes various measures to guarantee safe, decent, and affordable housing for everyone, though specific details are less clear. The Greens, noted for their emphasis on sustainability, support a large-scale building initiative paired with rent controls and policies that allow councils to requisition vacant or poorly insulated properties. Their strategy seeks to tackle both housing shortages and environmental issues, highlighting energy efficiency and the repurposing of existing buildings.

...there is a lot on housing in each manifesto, but given the scale of the challenge the question will be, will any one manifesto be enough to deal with the housing crisis, and which ideas will appeal most to the British electorate?

Dr Anandadeep Mandal, Birmingham Business School

Rights for renters

Regarding rental markets, the Greens distinguish themselves with their advocacy for rent controls, aiming to shield tenants from rising rents and ensure affordability. This approach contrasts with the other parties, who have not emphasized rent control in their policies. Additionally, the Greens' plan to enable councils to requisition empty or poorly insulated properties highlights their dedication to tackling both homelessness and environmental concerns simultaneously. Although Labour's planning system reforms do not directly address rental markets, they could indirectly benefit renters by potentially increasing the supply of affordable homes and reducing rental pressures.


Homelessness, although not the primary focus of every manifesto, is implicitly addressed through various strategies. Plaid Cymru's emphasis on the right to adequate housing suggests comprehensive measures to combat homelessness and guarantee secure housing for all. The Greens' policy of requisitioning empty properties aims to convert them into habitable homes, directly addressing homelessness. The Liberal Democrats' ambitious social housing plans would create a substantial safety net for those at risk of homelessness by ensuring a consistent supply of affordable rental units.

Green homes

The Greens most explicitly advocate for sustainability and innovation in housing, emphasizing energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. Their policies include requisitioning poorly insulated properties and incorporating green building practices to lower the housing sector's carbon footprint. Labour also acknowledges the need for environmental preservation with their targeted green belt construction, aiming to balance development with environmental concerns, although their key focus remains on addressing housing needs.

So, there is a lot on housing in each manifesto, but given the scale of the challenge the question will be, will any one manifesto be enough to deal with the housing crisis, and which ideas will appeal most to the British electorate?