Earlier this month I appealed for you to tackle politicians about the housing crisis when they come knocking at the door asking for votes come general election time.
Well with just 100 days to go until polling day on 7 May, colleagues at Home Group have been doing some number crunching. They’ve been looking specifically at the 100 most marginal seats in England – the ones where the outcome of the election really will be decided.
They’ve found that throughout those constituencies – from Brighton to Carlisle – there are one million people on the local authority housing waiting list who are eligible to vote.
Because the majorities are so small (as low as 92 in the most marginal constituency Thurrock) it would only take a relatively tiny swing – just over 72,000 votes – for control of all those seats to change.
I’m delighted to see that the Independent on Sunday newspaper (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/election-2015-housing-may-hold-key-as-waiting-lists-rise-in-critical-marginals-10000855.html) and Inside Housing (http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/one-million-waiting-for-social-housing-in-marginal-constituencies/7007939.article) have followed our research.
Now what a difference those mighty million people could make! And I hope all the candidates contesting these marginal constituencies realise – or can be persuaded to realise – this.
At the moment, though, housing is only 11th on the list of priorities of a snap shot of all voters. That’s according to the latest Ipsos/Mori poll. But if the pollsters asked those million people in the 100 crunch constituencies I suspect they would get a very different result.
All the while housing languishes in slightly worse than mid-table mediocrity (to use a football metaphor) the politicians will concentrate their efforts on what they consider to be more voter friendly targets.
They’re probably only half listening, therefore, when they’re told there are 1.7m people on the waiting list for social housing in England. They might have heard somewhere about the growing numbers of couples who can’t start a family because they can’t afford to move to a home big enough for children. They might be aware of the conditions some people have to live in because they have no choice. This week they might even have seen media coverage of Shelter’s survey which revealed that many first-time buyers have to save for more than a decade for a deposit.
That’s a heck of a lot of people for a take it or leave it mid-table political priority.
It seems to me that politicians of all parties need a proverbial shake to help them see the obvious. I suspect the news about the mighty million might help focus minds on those 100 marginal seats and it’s not long now (17 March) until the Homes for Britain campaign rally comes to Westminster.
To adapt a famous quote: “Doing nothing is not an option.” So make sure you tackle those politicians