Tax cut plan shows Tory MPs are focused on winning back young professional voters

Julian Harris
Follow Julian
Survey Reveals Young People Given Up On Dream Of Owning Their Own Home
Landlords who sell to their tenants would get tax relief under the plan (Source: Getty)

Oasis playing to more than 100,000 fans at Knebworth. John Major clinging on to power in Downing Street. England’s footballers crashing out of the European Championships on penalties to Germany.

The year, of course, was 1996. It may seem like yesterday to many of us, but life in Britain is markedly different today. This morning the IFS think tank lays out some bleak numbers pointing at one area of extreme change – the ability, or inability, to buy one’s home.

Back in 1996, nine out of 10 young workers in London could afford to buy a home in their local area, assuming they had a 10 per cent deposit and borrowed 4.5 times their salary. Today, only one in three 25-34 year olds can afford to get on the ladder under the same conditions.

Politicians are increasingly aware that something needs to be done and this morning also sees the publication of a bold idea by Onward, a campaign group backed by a number of Conservative MPs. The group proposes 100 per cent capital gains relief on properties sold by landlords to long-term tenants. Half the revenue from the relief would go into the selling landlord’s pocket, and half would help the buyers boost their deposit.

Politically, the idea shows that some Tory MPs are thinking in the right direction. Last year’s terrible General Election result was significantly impacted by young adults in their late 20s and 30s drifting to Labour. It was not, as originally suspected, simply a story of left-wing teens and students coming out to vote.

In the 25-34 age group cited above, only one in five people voted Conservative in 2017, with 46 per cent voting Labour, according to the centre-right Centre for Policy Studies. The same survey shows this group has strong feelings about the availability of housing – 57 per cent want more houses built in their local area (only 22 per cent object to new-builds), while seven in 10 say house prices have become too high. In London specifically, these figures are even higher.

The Onward idea for CGT relief could be dismissed as mere tinkering, adding another layer of complexity to a tax system that requires simplification. Nonetheless, it shows that some Tory MPs are at least banging their heads together in a bid to win back the votes of aspiring young professionals. For their side of the House, it is a promising development.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.