Solving Britain’s housing crisis could be the answer to winning May’s general election, Tooting’s Conservative candidate has argued.
Reports reveal that only half the number of homes people need are being built, the worst it’s been since the 1920s, coupled with an alarming 6.9% average annual rise in house prices since 1980.
Sky-high rents, along with rising living costs, are gobbling up people’s disposable incomes and this is something Dan Watkins claims is his top priority.
“Undoubtedly housing is the most pressing issue,” said Mr Watkins.
“It’s a real challenge for people to get onto the property ladder despite the fact that we have secured a lot of jobs for people, but we are still a long way off 200,000 homes a year – as were Labour.”
“However we have homes that have been approved to local planning committees that involve shared ownership, reductions in mortgage prices and homes with 20% discounts on market rates.
“All this is very achievable for the people of Wandsworth.”
The latest YouGov poll gives the Conservatives a paltry 2% cushion over Labour, just three less than Tooting’s sitting MP, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, who won this constituency by a marginal 5% in 2010.
However five years on the Tory candidate is confident in his chances of unseating the constituency’s incumbent of ten years.
“I think it’s achievable – it’s just a 3% swing needed and with the economy going in the right direction I believe we can overcome this hurdle of only 2,500 votes,” he said.
“Mr Khan is good at generating publicity and that is something I have to overcome.
“We have strong policies of our own and hopefully the people of Tooting will see that.”
An Independent poll revealed that 43% of people believe their finances are better off at present than under a Miliband-Balls (32%) government.
Youth unemployment in Tooting has more than halved to 245 people since 2010, a statistic that Mr Watkins’ believes strengthens his position.
“I am a local businessman who has created a great deal of local jobs and after succeeding in the private sector I can bring my project skills to make Tooting a more enterprising place and create a successful local economy,” he said.
“The economy will be an extremely important focal point for the next five years but also the issue of wages will come to define the next parliament and I think we have the policies to turn it around.”
Challenging economic times coupled with polls suggesting that voters are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Westminster makes it a difficult task for candidates to tackle.
However Mr Watkins believes his record – youth enterprise schemes, voluntary initiatives and conservation efforts – is a cause for optimism.
“The key is civic action – that is so important,” he said.
“Look at what we have accomplished, look at our successful projects and our efforts to oppose developments that would have led to a loss of green space and community assets such as pubs and scout groups.”
“We have been very proactive with our youth enterprise aiding young, disadvantaged people secure jobs and funding for grants.”
Image courtesy of Dan Watkins via YouTube, with thanks