You are here
Britain to spur home ownership, says PM Cameron with eye on his legacy
[MANCHESTER] British Prime Minister David Cameron will unveil plans on Wednesday to spur home ownership, striking at criticism that his Conservative government is failing growing numbers of Britons who are priced out of the housing market.
In a speech which could help shape his legacy as he begins his last five years in power, Mr Cameron will stake claim to the political centre ground and try 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 will step down by 2020 after his second term as prime minister and is increasingly interested in how he will be remembered.
In his speech to his party's annual conference, he will define his leadership as overseeing "the turnaround decade" and will reach out to the many younger Britons forced to live with their parents because they cannot afford to buy their own home.
"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 wakeup call for us," Mr Cameron will say, according to excerpts from his speech. "We need a national crusade to get homes built."
He will say the government will amend planning policy to encourage developers to build affordable housing to meet heavy demand - part of the Conservatives' drive to shed their image as a party that only looks after the rich and privileged and to attract support from lower earners.
Home ownership has long been a totemic issue for the Conservative Party.
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. Her government then sold off large numbers of state-owned 'council houses' to their tenants, often at knockdown prices.
New Labour leader 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 Labour leader last month after tapping into a desire for change, particularly among some younger voters who face more difficulty in getting jobs and owning homes than their parents did.
At the Conservatives' conference in the northern English city of Manchester, government ministers have poached some of their Labour opponents' policies such as investing in new infrastructure and childcare programmes.
By targeting home building, they are pressing that campaign. "I believe that we can make this era - these 2010s - a defining decade for our country ... the turnaround decade," Mr Cameron will say.
"One which people will look back on and say: 'that's the time when the tide turned when people no longer felt the current going against them, but working with them.'"