Hard promises: Labour’s manifesto in focus

The first footage of an MP wearing a hard hat has emerged, which can only mean one thing: politicians are laying the foundations to construct more rhetoric around housing, starting with the launch of Labour’s manifesto.

Labour’s manifesto has made some big promises about new homes, but can this translate into anything other than building castles in the sky?

The pledge: Labour has promised to build one million new homes by 2020; an oft-repeated target that most developers agree is unachievable. However, with new affordable housebuilding at a 24-year low, the addition of 100,000 affordable council homes is a welcome twist.

Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Terrie Alafat CBE said, “We know we need to build around 250,000 homes a year in England to get to grips with our national housing crisis, so it’s encouraging to see Labour setting an ambitious target for house building.

“But it’s not just about building more homes, it’s about building more affordable homes for people on lower incomes. We need more homes across the spectrum – for home ownership, for private and social rent, and for shared ownership – but we believe more investment is urgently needed in affordable homes to rent. So Labour’s commitment to build 100,000 affordable council and housing association homes a year is welcome, but matching that ambition with successful delivery will require a long-term plan combined with significant investment. We would like to see more detail on how these commitments would be funded.”

The pledge: Labour has joined up the dots between housing, infrastructure and construction skills to arrive at a new integrated housing and skills policy.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said, “Labour’s pledge to integrate housing and skills policy is the right approach to tackling two of the key challenges we face in the building industry. We are building too few homes in every part of the UK and this problem is exacerbated by the construction skills shortage. Jeremy Corbyn has said that freedom of movement would end under a Labour Government and it is therefore right that the party has a clear plan to build the homes we need and train the people we need to build them.”

The pledge: Labour says it will overhaul the Homes and Communities Agency to be its housing delivery body and give local authorities new powers to build.

Ruth Davison, Executive Director of Public Impact at the National Housing Federation, said, “We welcome the Labour Party’s focus on housing and its ambition to build the affordable housing the nation needs. Housing associations will be key partners with whoever forms the next government in delivering these new homes, already building around 40,000 a year.”

The pledge: Labour says it will build warmer, greener and bigger homes so UK households can keep warm this winter and those who haven’t yet discovered Spotify can have somewhere to store their CD collection.

Jane Duncan, President of RIBA, said, “The Labour manifesto commits to building one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes. It’s imperative that we can get Britain building to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, and ensure we have enough homes across all tenure types. This will not be achieved through a race to the bottom on standards, as the Labour manifesto recognises with support for measures including space standards and zero carbon homes.”

Labour has also pledged to:

  • Ensure that local plans address the need for older people’s housing, ensuring that choice and downsizing options are readily available;
  • Make the building of new homes, including council homes, a priority through its National Transformation Fund;
  • Establish a new Department for Housing to focus on tackling the housing and affordability crisis;
  • Prioritise brownfield sites and protect the green belt;
  • Start work on a new generation of new towns to build the homes we need and avoid urban sprawl;
  • Keep the Land Registry in public hands, where it belongs, and make ownership of land more transparent.
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