Cameron vows to tackle housing woes

MANCHESTER • Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday unveiled plans to spur home ownership, striking at criticism that his government is failing growing numbers of Britons who are priced out of the housing market.

In a speech that could shape his legacy as he begins his last five years in power, the Conservative leader staked claim to the political centre and tried to appeal particularly to young people, thousands of whom recently helped to elect left-winger Jeremy Corbyn to lead the main opposition Labour Party.

Mr Cameron, 48, has said he would step down by 2020 after his second term as prime minister, and is increasingly interested in how he will be remembered. In the speech at his party's annual conference, he said the Tories need to "tackle some deep social problems" as he detailed policies on housing, prisons and education.

He defined his leadership as overseeing "the turnaround decade", and reached out to the many younger Britons forced to live with their parents because they cannot afford to buy their own homes.

"When a generation of hardworking men and women in their 20s and 30s are waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms - that should be a wake-up call for us," the Prime Minister said.

The government is set to amend planning policy to encourage developers to build affordable housing to meet heavy demand - part of the Conservative Party's drive to shed its image as a party that looks after only the rich and privileged, and to attract support from lower earners.

Home ownership has long been a totemic issue for the Conservatives. In 1975, then Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher said she would transform Britain into a "home-owning democracy", a promise that helped her become prime minister in 1979.

Mr Corbyn has also promised to do more for people priced out of Britain's expensive housing market, where prices have risen by more than 50 per cent over the last decade.

He was elected the new Labour leader last month after tapping into a desire for change, particularly among some younger voters who face difficulty in getting jobs and owning homes.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Cameron vows to tackle housing woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe