Labour’s plans for the housing emergency
Nandy took care to note that the UK’s market conditions have fuelled the housing crisis, turning attention to an issue of overlapping set of interests that prevent more homes being built and, in their opinion, hold back economic growth.
Labour plans to spur the development of new local development corporations, aiming to take power out of Whitehall and transferring it to the hands of local powers.
On this Nandy said: “This will see the right to take control of your own destiny, and give you the tools to do so, while being clear about your rights and responsibilities.”
Nandy also signalled the return of housing targets – specifically, local housing targets. It was only shortly before Housing 2022 that Michael Gove, then yet to depart as head of DLUHC stepped the government back from their targets. Nandy recommitted to bringing them back, saying: “Abandoning them was cowardice, weakness in the face of backbenchers.”
In addition, Nandy focused on ending the taboo of building on green belt land, saying we must “..be honest about it is and isn’t…no more disused petrol stations being considered green belt.” On top of that, Nandy signalled support for reforming rules around compulsory purchases to end land speculation, and reverse changes to the National Policy Planning Framework.
This would come in addition to making it mandatory for local authorities to have a housing plan in place – currently many do not, or have out of date plans.
Social housing, as one might expect, forms a key component of Labour’s plans. Nandy said Labour’s plan is to make social housing the second-most frequent type of housing after home ownership, saying: “Too many households are currently in the private rental sector.”
“Some for good reasons, but many who should be in social housing or should be making the leap to ownership. The balance is wrong, and we’ll restore social housing to the second-most common type of housing.”
Will it materialise?
Questions from the audience were keen to point out that Labour’s own plans have been changed, and in some cases ‘watered down’, over the last year.
In response, Nandy assured the crowd that nothing would be in the Labour manifesto for the next general election that wasn’t fully costed and achievable – however Nandy did also stress that their two-term plan to grow the UK economy had house building as a key component, ramping up investment as the benefits of the growth policies bear fruit.
“The absence of security and certainty, for business and families, is a handbrake on everyone’s ambition,” she said. “There is no solution to the housing crisis that doesn’t involve substantial social housing – if we get this right, there are benefits to the economy across the nation.”
However, the manifesto is yet to be published for any major party ahead of the next general election.