Labour would fix the housing crisis?

Labour would fix the housing crisis?

14:58 PM, 27th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago 16

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In her Labour Party Conference Speech, Lucy Powell, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said that she sees housing as very much a public health issue.

Lucy wants to tackle what she perceives as issues of quality, affordability and security in private rentals and end No-Fault Evictions.

When it comes to the cladding issue Lucy says Labour would create a Building Works Agency to assess, fix and fund and then certify all tall buildings. Then pursue those responsible for costs and put in law that leaseholders won’t pay.

They will give first-time buyers ‘first dibs’ on new developments, and put an end to the practice of foreign hedge funds purchasing swathes of new homes, off-plan.

The definition of affordable homes will not be linked to over-heated market rates but set from a new definition linked to local wages.

Labour will give local authorities new powers to buy and develop land for housing, and revitalise town centres, by reforming arcane compensation rules. This could generate up to 100,000 new homes a year, much of which social and affordable.

Full conference speech below:

“Those who know me, know I’m a proud Mancunian. Manchester is in my DNA.

My experiences growing up, living and now representing Manchester have shaped my politics. The city’s been transformed over my lifetime, mainly for the better.

However, some of the harsh inequalities of my youth have widened after years of Conservative rule.

Nowhere more than in housing.

The semi-detached I grew up in, bought on the basic salaries of a teacher and social worker, now totally out of reach for my kids. My grandparents’ old house – Irish immigrants who took huge pride in their small garden – now in a street full of neglected buy-to-lets.

The terraced houses formerly of aspiring factory workers, now over-crowded, poor quality rentals. The once derelict City Centre transformed, but the ancient laws of leasehold not working for homeowners.

Most now wait for years for a Council House.

I see all around me the housing crisis.

Manchester Labour is rising to the challenge, albeit, with its hands tied behind its back. Their approach inspires mine.

We’ve lost somewhere that housing isn’t simply an asset to be traded, but the fundamental cornerstone of a successful life.

Covid came and shone a bright light on these divides too, when home had new meaning.

Between those in comfortable homes and those on the streets, or in insecure, unaffordable, or overcrowded homes.

We saw that housing is very much a public health issue.

Through history, after a crisis of this magnitude, we have built a better future.

Homes fit for Heroes after World War One.

The Attlee Government putting housing at the heart of post-war Britain.

New settlements – needed once in every generation.

Conference, that moment for us is now.

It starts with understanding the roots of our current crisis.

The Conservatives see housing as a commodity: to be traded, profited from, part of an investment portfolio, a pension pot, not as the bedrock of stable lives and life chances.

Their record speaks for itself: Record numbers living in insecure private rents, a huge net loss of social housing.

And with over-heated prices and homeowner numbers down – they can’t even claim the mantle of homeownership anymore.

The link between wages and housing costs is now broken, leaving millions exposed to the universal credit cut.

And their woeful record of switching our homes to green, means we are very vulnerable to the current energy crisis.

Four years on from the tragedy at Grenfell, we’ve got a Building safety scandal – a tragic symbol of housing policy gone wrong: deregulation, no oversight, an unwillingness to intervene.

Leaving hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders trapped in unsellable homes. The so-called party of home-ownership rings very hollow to them.

But I hear we have Michael Gove coming to the rescue!

Do me a favour.

Ask the teachers! Less a knight in shining armour, a wrecking ball more like!

We’ve got a plan: a Building Works Agency to assess, fix and fund and then certify all tall buildings. Then pursue those responsible for costs.

And we would put in law that leaseholders won’t pay.

We aren’t afraid to take on the tough challenges that our New Settlement demands.

We will be bold, radical, forward thinking, and empowering.

And conference, on housing I think we can agree – let’s move on from the false choices:

A new settlement must include a massive increase in council and social homes, fit for all ages.

That means we can’t continue with the huge net loss in council houses resulting from Right to Buy and its huge discount.

I see no contradiction in us also promoting home-ownership – not for more landlords or second homes, but for ordinary working people – nurses, electricians, delivery drivers and care workers – currently priced out.

Their aspirations for home-ownership will be met by Labour.

Central to this is bold action on restoring the link between wages and housing costs.

And tackling the thorny issues of quality, affordability and security in private rentals.

Ending rough sleeping. And No-Fault Evictions.

Meeting our climate targets.

Housing as a human right – all at the heart of our New Settlement.

It’s not easy – but solutions are already out there.

That’s why we are launching our Great Housing Challenge: learning from Labour councils, our fantastic Mayors and trailblazing Welsh Government.

Developing our housing plan together.

A key part of this vision is building more truly affordable homes.

For too long, speculators and developers have held most of the cards – ducking minimal commitments, extracting huge value from the public for land, and doing too little for first time buyers and local people.

That’s why Labour will give local authorities new powers to buy and develop land for housing, and revitalise town centres, by reforming arcane compensation rules.

This could generate up to 100,000 new homes a year, much of which social and affordable.

The current definition of affordable is anything but, linked to over-heated market rates. We will set a new definition linked to local wages.

We will close loopholes that let developers wriggle out of commitments.

We will give first time buyers first dibs on new developments, and put an end to the outrageous practise of foreign hedge funds purchasing swathes of new homes, off plan.

These reforms, a first step to put housing at the heart of the battle for Downing Street.

Labour, the Party of home-owners and tenants, the Tories, the Party of speculators and developers.

Labour, once in a generation, fixing the housing crisis with a New Settlement.

Where everyone has the right to a safe, secure, stable, warm, truly affordable home.

The bedrock to a successful, happy life.

That time is now, and together we can rise to it.”



Comments

by Ian Narbeth

10:29 AM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

The Conservatives see housing as a commodity: to be traded, profited from, part of an investment portfolio, a pension pot, not as the bedrock of stable lives and life chances.
Everyone recognises that some people will never own their own home and some people will want to rent for part of their life or at different times in their life. The question is whether the State alone can provide housing for them.

Their record speaks for itself: Record numbers living in insecure private rents, a huge net loss of social housing. A “lost” social house is still occupied by someone when it is privately owned. This misleading statement is repeated time and again by the left. If the occupiers did not buy or rent the former Council House those occupiers would still need somewhere to live.

And their woeful record of switching our homes to green, means we are very vulnerable to the current energy crisis. It is not the Government’s responsibility to do this on its own. And what does she mean by “our” homes? PRS landlords would be more able to upgrade their properties if they hadn’t been hit with increased taxes, increased regulatory costs and increased bad debts from tenants given de facto security of tenure.


We’ve got a plan: a Building Works Agency to assess, fix and fund and then certify all tall buildings. Then pursue those responsible for costs. If it were that simple it would have been done. It isn’t and Lucy Powell knows it.

And we would put in law that leaseholders won’t pay. And if the freeholder has gone out of business then either the taxpayer pays or the repairs won’t be done.

A new settlement must include a massive increase in council and social homes, fit for all ages.

That means we can’t continue with the huge net loss in council houses resulting from Right to Buy and its huge discount. See my comments above about this fallacious argument.

I see no contradiction in us also promoting home-ownership – not for more landlords or second homes, but for ordinary working people – nurses, electricians, delivery drivers and care workers – currently priced out.

Their aspirations for home-ownership will be met by Labour. So how will you make houses more affordable?

Central to this is bold action on restoring the link between wages and housing costs. Meaning what exactly? Crashing the housing market perhaps? Pushing millions of people especially recent first time buyers into negative equity? Vastly inflating everyone’s wages and keeping our fingers crossed that house prices won’t go up?

And tackling the thorny issues of quality, affordability and security in private rentals. Where is the evidence that private housing is worse quality than social housing?

Ending rough sleeping. Happy to see that but if it were simply a case of providing houses it would have been fixed. Don’t blame the PRS. And No-Fault Evictions. Happy to explain to Ms Powell the foolishness and unfairness of this proposal. I am old enough to remember the days of tenants stuck in the same Council House and of Council House waiting lists. People could not move for work. The 1988 Housing Act changed that and helped boost the economy.

A key part of this vision is building more truly affordable homes. And presumably selling them for less than they cost to build or renting them out at low rents, subsidised by the taxpayer.

For too long, speculators and developers have held most of the cards – ducking minimal commitments, extracting huge value from the public for land, and doing too little for first time buyers and local people. She needs to talk to some developers about the problems they face in getting their projects built.

That’s why Labour will give local authorities new powers to buy and develop land for housing, and revitalise town centres, by reforming arcane compensation rules.

This could generate up to 100,000 new homes a year, much of which social and affordable.

The current definition of affordable is anything but, linked to over-heated market rates. We will set a new definition linked to local wages. Rent controls anyone? A failed policy that will fail again.

We will close loopholes that let developers wriggle out of commitments. What loopholes? This is just a slur.

Labour, the Party of home-owners and tenants, the Tories, the Party of speculators and developers. All property is built by a “developer”.

Where everyone has the right to a safe, secure, stable, warm, truly affordable home. Even those who are dishonest and too indolent to study at school and to work at a job. All must be rewarded with a home. Vote for me!

by David

11:35 AM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

They've already had two major initiatives aimed at ending rough sleeping, both of which failed. The factors that affect a person's decision to sleep rough are beyond the control of any Government, but they're counting on people having short memories or being too young to remember.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

11:35 AM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

Labour showing their Communist - Socialist values and their 'Redistribution of wealth policies.
Mind, the Tories are ' at it ' also with their Levelling-up. !
To the extent this relates mainly - exclusively ? to Housing, we only have to look at the re-naming of MHCLG, where the only intention can be to promote Tenants at the expense of landlords.

by TheBiggerPicture

11:35 AM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

Thanks Ian. Great breakdown.
The problem is who needs facts when you have ideology and a narrative to create to win votes.

by Peter G

16:56 PM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

A lot of "pie in the sky" in these Labour proposals but I agree with blocking foreign investors buying up properties off plan and with bulk discounts (but allow UK expats working abroad to buy a property). Only UK passport holders and UK based companies should be allowed to buy residential property in the UK, and convert commercial property to residential. This should also stop/reduce property rental income and capital gain profits being transferred abroad.

by Ian Narbeth

17:33 PM, 28th September 2021, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Peter G at 28/09/2021 - 16:56@Peter G
"Only UK passport holders and UK based companies should be allowed to buy residential property in the UK, and convert commercial property to residential."
When you think it through I am afraid this does not work and opens a can of worms. Why should non-UK passport holders not buy here? How will you stop them using a UK registered company? Perhaps you will stop the shares of UK registered companies that own resi from being sold to those nasty foreigners. Oops, that creates a problem for business owners who want to sell.
Normally we welcome inward investment. Why be protectionist? We want more housebuilding, not less.
What if other countries retaliate and stop Brits buying in France, Spain, Italy, Greece etc?

by Michael Barnes

16:32 PM, 30th September 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 28/09/2021 - 10:29
A “lost” social house is still occupied by someone when it is privately owned.

Yes, but a lot have become private rentals at the highest rent achievable.

by Ian Narbeth

16:56 PM, 30th September 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 30/09/2021 - 16:32
My point is that the total number of houses is the same whether the house is in the PRS, social sector or owner-occupied.
Labour should focus on encouraging more house building instead of planning to tax landlords even more heavily.

by TheBiggerPicture

11:56 AM, 1st October 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 30/09/2021 - 16:56
But if more houses were built, there would be no housing problem for them to solve.
Also with no housing problem there would be no bogey man for them to blame to whip up votes!

Why would they want to solve the housing crisis?

by Chris @ Possession Friend

12:06 PM, 1st October 2021, About 3 weeks ago

If there wasn't as much Legal and Illegal Immigration, there'd be far less houses required and more to go around for British citizens.
Charity begins at home and looking out for ones own countrymen ( women ) first is Not racist. !

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