Theresa May: Housing market friend or foe?

Prime Minister Theresa May: Housing market friend or foe?

It’s been another rollercoaster week in British politics and with new Prime Minister Theresa May settling in behind the most famous door in the country, and putting her new cabinet in place, there’s no doubt that we’re set to see further changes.

But what does this mean for the housing market as a whole? Are Prime Minister May’s policies going to differ wildly from David Cameron’s, and could this be the start of a revolution in the UK property market?

Experience in the market

It has been documented that Theresa May has said that she will deal with the housing crisis, believing that it is important to give more people more opportunity. However, Prime Minister May has had little to do with the property industry during her political career, apart from a spell as the housing spokesperson from 1992 to 1994 during her time at the London Borough of Merton.

Memorably, May was put on the spot by John Humphreys on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last year, on the subject of the government’s plans to extend Right to Buy to social tenants. As Home Secretary, May was unable to defend the policy, or answer questions on how the government planned to pay for the scheme. She was questioned on whether private renters should be afforded the same help as social tenants, a question which May was unable to answer, instead insisting that it is a ‘policy that would help a lot of people’.

She also voted in the recent bill to ban letting agent fees being charged to tenants, voting to allow the practice to continue.

Plans for the future

However, she seems to have a grip on the issues that matter to the much of UK. At a recent speech before she took over as PM, she said: ‘The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced. And more and more of the country’s money will go into expensive housing instead of more productive investments that generate more economic growth.’

‘It is why housing matters so much, and why we need to do far more to get more houses built. Unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising. Young people will find it even harder to afford their own home.’

This comment tallies with her inaugural speech, made earlier this week outside 10, Downing Street, in which she pledged to ‘lead not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours’ (the general public).

Before the election, housing Minister Brandon Lewis confirmed that there are no plans to deviate from the carefully laid plans. Speaking just before the election results were finalized, he said: ‘Whoever the prime minister is, we have to stay true to the manifesto we launched last year, which had two key housing policies: Starter Homes and extending the Right to Buy to 1.3m people. There’s no reason that would change.’

Building her team

On her first official day in office, Prime Minister May made substantial changes to the Cabinet. Following a reign which has been unpopular with buy-to-let landlords and property investors, George Osborne was replaced by Philip Hammond as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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