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02 July 2024

General Election 2024: Voting intentions at 48 hours to go

General Election 2024: Voting intentions at 48 hours to go

As the 2024 general election campaigns reach their final days, policy and external affairs manager Bethan Proctor looks at the latest polls, and what the projected winner could mean for social housing in Wales

The six-week election campaign period is almost drawing to a close as we edge closer to polling day. The latest Ipsos Mori voting intention poll shows that Labour has managed to remain way ahead of the Conservative Party with a 33 point lead, but despite this, both of the main parties are down from where they started (Labour by one point, and the Conservatives by four points).

It is the Liberal Democrats and more so Reform UK that have seen their polling increase during the campaign.

For the Liberal Democrats, although the party is polling lower than the 11.6% of the vote that they gained in the 2019 election, both tactical voting and a more efficient vote could see the party double their seats.

Reform UK support surged after Nigel Farage announced he would be standing as a candidate, and - despite a turbulent campaign with one Reform UK candidate deflecting back to the Tories due to being disillusioned with the behaviour of the party - it is predicted to win a number of seats.

These numbers must be caveated with the fact that they are based on a relatively small (albeit representative) sample and they do not take into account local issues. Furthermore, voters can change their minds - as Ipsos Mori research published in June points to: More than one in three say they may change their mind before the election (36%. At this stage in December 2019 it was 27%. 44% of current Conservative voters and 45% of Liberal Democrats say they may change their mind compared to 33% of Labour voters and 29% of Reform UK supporters.

Intentions in Wales

The voting intention in Wales is similar to that across the rest of the UK, but with slightly more support for Labour, and slightly less for the Conservatives. A YouGov poll demonstrates Labour on 45% and the Conservatives on 18% (at 3 June 2024).

It is harder to predict what this polling means for certain constituencies. The seats to watch will be the Vale of Glamorgan, Caerfyrddin, Ynys Mon, Brecon, Radnorshire & Cwm Tawe, Monmouthshire and Montgomeryshire.

Labour will be hoping to gain every one of these seats, but its key focus is on the Vale of Glamorgan and Caerfyrddin. Brecon, Radnorshire and Cwm Tawe is a three horse race between Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and is currently far too close to call.

Despite the Conservatives retracting support from its candidate in Montgomeryshire, Craig Williams, for a betting scandal, this could be the only seat that it wins in Wales. Plaid Cymru won four of the 40 seats in Wales in 2019, however following the boundary changes which has resulted in Wales now having 32 seats, Plaid will have a fight to repeat this performance.

The next UK Government and its housing priorities

No votes have yet been counted and a lot can change between now and Thursday 4 July, however it is widely believed that the Labour Party will gain the most seats. If or when Labour forms the next government, the challenges around housing supply, homelessness, development and decarbonisation will be key issues that it will need to tackle.

Labour’s UK manifesto commitments include a range of social housing-connected pledges to increase supply - for example building 1.5 million homes within five years, scrapping Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and strengthening planning.

It is important to note that under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, the notice period for section 21 no fault evictions has already been extended to six months - but Welsh housing associations do not use this type of notice.

Labour has also launched its Welsh manifesto which highlights how the two Labour governments could work together “for Wales’ future”. The manifesto supports Welsh Labour’s housing ambitions including delivering 20,000 new homes for social rent, increasing land available for social housing, extending the Help to Buy scheme, and tackling second home ownership.

The manifesto also points to the joint working opportunities from having a Labour government in Westminster and a Welsh Labour government. The governments would work together to reform compulsory purchase compensation rules to improve land assembly and speed up site delivery. They also pledge to rebuild the capacity of planning departments.

Our calls to the next UK Government

As housing is devolved to Welsh Government, we have made calls to the next UK Government related to non-devolved areas such as welfare, energy and net-zero. We are urging for:

  • A holistic approach to welfare support that prevents homelessness and supports access to the rental market.

  • Reform of Universal Credit to ensure that claimants can pay for basic essentials as a minimum and improvements to the system for both claimants and housing associations.

  • An energy system that protects low-income households

  • Funding incentives and government commitment to support the sector to achieve its net-zero goals

Our joint calls

We have also made a number of calls with partners:

  • Along with more than 50 other organisations, we signed a cross-sector open letter to Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak, calling for the new government to end poverty and hardship in the UK by creating an Essentials Guarantee.

  • As a member of the Homes for all Cymru (HFAC) coalition, we developed a set of general election asks, calling on UK Government to commit to action addressing the housing emergency. HFAC is also calling on parliamentary candidates in Wales to commit to working at Westminster to secure specific changes to reserved policy areas that currently negatively impact housing outcomes in Wales.

  • With our UK housing federation partners (National Housing Federation, Scottish Federation of Housing and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations), we have jointly written to each of the party leaders urging them to end fuel poverty and create a social energy tariff.

We will continue to work closely with our partners after the election on 4 July to push for the changes that we need to see from a new government at Westminster. We will also look to build and continue relationships with key MPs and ministers in order to ensure that affordable, good quality homes can be a basic right for all.