In a bold bid to win back younger generations to the Conservative Party, the foreign secretary plans to mirror Thatcher’s “right to buy” with a new “right to own” policy. The plan is part of a five point pledge to younger which also includes providing guaranteed mental health support in all schools, slashing the interest payments on student loans, incentivising entrepreneurs by paying off the student loans of those who start their own business, and promising the UK will have zero carbon emissions by 2050 including introducing 2.5 million electric vehicle charge points. He told the Sunday Express that the Conservative Party will be “dead on its feet” unless it can start winning over younger voters.
He said: “If there is one thing we have got to do as Conservatives it is starting to win elections.
“I’m 52, basically everyone younger than me is more likely to vote Labour than Conservative.
“Only a few years ago that age above which people are more likely to vote Conservative was just 35.
“So if this trend continues we will literally die on our feet and our mission as a Conservative Party has got to be to attract young people.”
The housing pledge will see the government build land without planning permission on it which is around 15 per cent of value to land with planning permission.
It will then get planning permission for new homes and offer a portion of them to people in their 20s and 30s for only the cost of building a new house for them to own, a fraction of the value of a normal new house.
The scheme will involve 150,000 of the homes for young people each year and will be cost neutral with other houses on the sites sold at full market value.
He said: “When I was at uni this was one of my big dreams to buy my own house. I was lucky enough to do it in my 20s.
“Few people can afford to do that now because house prices have rocketed. Margaret Thatcher had a plan which meant that 1.5 million people got on the housing ladder through right to buy programme.
“This is a big programme which is going to help lots of young people get on the housing ladder in a way that will allow them to make their dreams come true for themselves or their families.”
On housing he also plans to force developers to stop sitting on land banks by charging full council tax on plots as soon as they have got planning permission.
He said: “We have got people who want to live in those houses. We want to encourage them (property developers), we have tried very hard with all sorts of things but this would be a way to encourage people to get on build.”
He will also allow developments in cities to go up to five stories to help protect green space and the countryside in a policy known as BUNO – build up not out.
The proposal on mental health is completing unfinished business from his time as health secretary.
He said: “There is a mental health epidemic with young people, a big increase in self harm and terrible suicides at universities.
“I want to put mental health support in schools so we tackle mental health at a young age because more than half of mental health problems because established before the age of 14.”
He said the current interest rate on student loans of retail price index inflation plus 3 per cent is “just unfair.”
He added: “It is also counter productive because it means lots of people’s debts increase to such high levels they can’t afford to repay them.
“So I will cut the interest rate students have to pay on fees.”
He will also look at proposals of reducing tuition fees at universities although insisted that they have been successful in injecting cash into higher education.
Currently, only one per cent of students leaving university start their own business, but Mr Hunt believes his pledge to pay off their tuition fees if they become entrepreneurs will dramatically increase that number.
He said: “By employing people, entrepreneurs generate significant revenues from income tax and employees’ and employers’ National Insurance Contributions.”