Award-winning communications experts in the built environment

General Election 2019

Built Environment General Election Insight #5


With all the manifestos out, the election campaign enters its final two weeks. You can read our analysis of what the manifestos say about the built environment here.

But, there’s more, as you can now download our exclusive top line poster here.

This week, we’re focussing on the industry’s reaction to the various election pledges.

We will also be providing analysis of the first big polling event of the campaign – YouGov’s MRP poll of over 100,000 people that proved so accurate in 2017.

Without further delay, here are this week’s main developments.

Quick Links

CBI responds to the manifestos
RIBA reacts to the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative manifestos
Landlords hit out at Conservative and Labour manifestos
New poll predicts 68 seat Conservative majority
Latest Opinion Polling

CBI responds to the manifestos

#Energy #Gas

The Story: The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has written a detailed critique of each manifesto which you can read in full here. BECG has picked out the relevant points for housing, infrastructure and energy.

On the Conservative manifesto, the CBI welcomes the commitment to local infrastructure that they say will drive growth and reduce regional inequalities. However, they are concerned about the lack of firm commitments to HS2 and Heathrow expansion. In respect of the energy sector, they welcome steps towards net zero, in particular an electric vehicle charging network and energy efficient homes, but comment on the lack of a commitment on more onshore wind and a new financing model for nuclear power. Their main concern is their belief that a hard Brexit could seriously damage the economy and restrict private sector growth and investment.

Commenting on Labour’s manifesto, they are scathing about plans for greater state control as well as increases in corporation tax, cuts to investment incentives and proposed windfall taxes on oil and gas. They are supportive of Labour’s goals for a closer relationship with the European Union, as well as the ambitions on affordable housebuilding, but feel that Labour’s overall approach threatens the wider economy and could stop these plans being achieved.

The Liberal Democrat’s pro-business credentials have clearly had some effect on the CBI, with them describing many aspects of the manifesto as helping enterprise flourish. They are particularly impressed with the Lib Dem commitment to raise R&D spend to 3% of GDP and promising an increase in housebuilding. The CBI is less effusive about the plans for infrastructure however, with the positive response to the commitment to HS2 matched with their disappointment around the moratorium on airport expansion. They are also sceptical about the ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis, where plans to electrify all rail lines and ensure that all new cars are electric by 2030 is described as “very challenging”.

Agenda: The CBI welcomes the overall move towards increasing infrastructure investment that all three main parties offer. They do, however, point to two issues that could threaten the ability to do this. The first is a hard Brexit that could damage the economy and the other is Labour’s plan to increase state control, which they believe would restrict the private sector’s ability to create enough wealth to make such investment affordable.

Impact: Whichever party wins power in two weeks’ time, they can expect the CBI to be open to working with the new government, but openly critical of either a hard Brexit on one hand, or increased state control on the other. Disagreements on such big issues will ensure the CBI continues to be a vocal critic in the years ahead regardless of the victor.

RIBA reacts to the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative manifestos

#Housing #Architecture

The Story: In two separate interventions, RIBA president Alan Jones critiqued the offerings of the three main parties.

For Labour, he welcomed their commitments to tackle the lack of affordable housing, scrapping permitted development rights and fire safety commitments. However, he raised concerns about a lack of clarity on how they intend to use planning to raise the quality of homes and a failure to commit to review all building safely regulations. He also urged Labour to work with architects and other experts to ensure that new homes are greener, safer and better designed.

Referring to the Conservatives plans, he welcomed the recognition from the party of the UK’s architecture sector as world leading, as well as the need to create more affordable, accessible homes for disabled people and the ageing population. However, he expressed his dismay at their continued commitment to permitted development rights that block councils from being able to stop poor quality housing being created from old commercial buildings. He also criticised the party for failing to commit to improving fire safety, including making sprinkler systems mandatory and enforcing the removal of Grenfell-style cladding.

Jones was more positive about the Liberal Democrats approach, praising their commitment to assisting the built environment sector in tacking climate change. In particular, he picked out their pledge for all new homes and non-domestic buildings to meet a zero-carbon standard by 2021, and to provide free retrofits for residents on low incomes.

Agenda: RIBA is looking to emphasise to all three parties that good design and planning controls are important and that no one party has all the right ideas here.

Impact: The Institute will want to influence whichever party comes to power after the election, and two issues, fire safety and their wish for permitted development rights to be scrapped, are at the front of their minds. We would expect RIBA to continue to put pressure on the new government on both of these issues.

Landlords hit out at Conservative and Labour manifestos

#Landlords #Housing

The Story: The National Landlords Association (NLA) has criticised both Conservative and Labour manifestos. The NLA hit out at Labour’s manifesto, claiming a Corbyn government would drive landlords from the market, whilst claiming a Johnson government would be on a “hell-bent” path to punishing law-abiding landlords.

The Agenda: In 2017, 4.5 million households were in the private sector, an increase of 1.7 million from 2007. This is a significant proportion of the population, and the major parties are eager to woo these voters. Labour has pledged the following: An annual ‘MOT’ for landlords, rent controls linked to inflation, abolishment of ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions, and a regulatory regime with fines of up to £100,000. Conservatives have also pledged to end Section 21 evictions and will introduce lifetime rental deposits, although the NLA will reserve judgement on this.

Impact: This is good news for renters, as both parties will provide them with greater protection. But at what cost? The UK’s landlords will certainly be impacted by both parties’ manifestos, although much more by Labour’s, which would revolutionise and possibly damage the rental sector, perhaps driving landlords away.

New poll predicts 68 seat Conservative majority

#Polling #MRP

The Story: Political geeks and amateur psephologists rejoice – the MRP poll is out! YouGov’s multilevel regression and post-stratification poll is the largest of its kind, with over 100,000 interviews collected over a week, compared to just 1,000 in a usual poll. YouGov takes what they know about these respondents and what they know about each parliamentary constituency to then make a prediction for each seat in Great Britain.

This model predicts the Conservatives gaining 41 seats, mainly from the Labour Party in leave voting areas of the Midlands and the North. The Labour Party is down 51 seats from 2017, with further losses in Scotland to the SNP adding to their defeats to the Tories. For the Liberal Democrats, their increased share of the vote only translates to one additional seat, with gains in remain voting areas like Richmond Park and Sheffield Hallam being set against losses to the Tories in leave voting areas like North Norfolk, and to the SNP in Scotland. According to this poll they are failing to pick up votes in their former heartlands in the South West and are piling them up in inner city areas where Labour’s majorities are just too big to win.

Agenda: Although this is the largest sample poll so far, and it was the best predictor of the result in 2017, it is just a poll and we still have two weeks to go in the campaign. There are 30 Labour held seats that the MRP predicts will go Conservative by less than 4 percentage points, so if we start to see the polls tighten to a Conservative lead of 6-7 percentage points compared to the 11 in this poll, then a hung parliament is much more likely.

Impact: It will be interesting to see how polls such as this affect party and voter behaviour. In the face of such a large majority, will Conservative voters get complacent and could that reduce their motivation to go out on a cold December evening? Conversely, could this shift the prioritisation of Labour strategists, moving activists into seats that were previously considered safe? Only one thing is sure, the only poll that really matters is on December 12.

BECG is very happy to provide advice on specific geographic areas if required and you can see the poll in detail here.

Latest Opinion Polling

Conservatives          43% (up 2% on last week)
Labour                      30% (up 1% on last week)
Lib Dems                  15% (unchanged)
Brexit Party              5%  (down 2% on last week)
Green Party              4%  (up1% on last week)

Source: Rolling poll tracker in The Guardian

Written by: Nick Sutcliffe


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