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12/05/2017

What would a Labour government mean for the housing sector?

Written by James Wood

Senior Account Executive

Late on Wednesday, a draft of the Labour 2017 general election manifesto was leaked to the press. The draft was initially circulated by the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph

So what clues can we glean from the leak regarding a future Labour government’s housing policies?

House-building

In terms of house-building figures, Labour looks set to pledge to build 1 million new homes by 2022, including 100,000 council and housing association homes (for rent or sale).

The party would also establish a new ‘Department for Housing’ to improve the standard and affordability of new homes.

Much like the current government’s current position, Labour would look to prioritise brownfield sites, while protecting the green belt. Central to achieving this will be to start work on a set of New Towns to prevent urban sprawl.

Local Plans would also be amended to address the need for older people’s housing and ensure choice and downsizing options are available.

Home-ownership

A Labour government would pledge to “build thousands more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers” and would guarantee Help to Buy funding until 2027.

Moreover, they would give local people buying their home “first dib’s” on new homes built in their area.Under Jeremy Corbyn, the party would give leaseholders security from “rip off ground rents” and end the routine use of leasehold houses in new developments.

Council and social housing

In a bid to kick-start council house-building, Labour are proposing to give councils new powers to build homes. The aim is to begin the biggest council building programme for 30 years.

Labour will ditch the Conservatives’ ban on long-term council tenancies to give council tenants “security in their home” and will suspend right to buy with councils only able to resume sales if they can prove they have a plan to replace homes sold on a like for like basis.

Conclusion

Following the leak, the manifesto was “unanimously” agreed during the party’s ‘Clause V’ meeting – albeit with a small amount of tinkering.

The problem for Labour, however, is not one of policy, but of perception. Many of the policies set out by Labour in their manifesto will resonate. In particular, polls suggest that the majority of voters support Jeremy Corbyn’s key pledges, including the renationalisation of railways and aspects of the energy market.

And yet, Theresa May remains the firm front runner to be the next prime minister by as much as 28 points in many opinion polls. On the key issue of Brexit, the Conservatives lead Labour by 39% to 12% in terms of public opinion, while when it comes to the economy the Tories are trusted by 40% of the population, compared to Labour on just 17%.

In short, current polling suggests that policies alone will not be enough for Labour to close the gap on the Tories before 8 June.  

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General election, Labour