The Labour Party has pledged £75bn to the construction of 150,000 new council or housing associations homes a year as part of its 2019 general election manifesto.
The move – which would represent the biggest housebuilding programme in England since the 1960s – would be paid for using half of the £150bn “social transformation fund” recently announced by the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, which itself will be funded through government borrowing.
Labour has promised that all newly built houses will meet “cutting edge design and green standards”, with environmental impact and energy efficiency to be factored into all future planning processes.
The party has also outlined plans for new regulation in the private rental sector, vowing to “put bad landlords out of business” if it is elected into power next month. According to the Office for National Statistics, around one in five households (21 per cent) in England are privately rented – a rate which has doubled since 1997.
Under a Labour government, private rents would not be allowed to increase by more than the rate of inflation, and landlords would face fines of up to £100,000 and forced to repay rent if found guilty of letting out substandard property. Labour claimed that its research found that tenants in England are spending, on average, £10bn a year, on “non-decent” homes, namely those that are cold, damp, damaged or unsafe to live in.
To help first-time buyers Labour said that it would introduce a policy to compel private property developers to build at least 50,000 discounted homes by the end of the next parliament. John Healy, the shadow housing secretary, proposed that local authorities should be able to use the planning process to force developers to build houses earmarked for first-time buyers in the area to be sold at a discount of up to half of the local market rate.
Housing is a live issue in this general election campaign, with other parties also campaigning on a ticket of investment and proactive policymaking in the sector. For example, if elected, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and to introduce a new Rent to Own scheme which will give tenants an increasing stake in their property until they own it outright after 30 years. The Lib Dems also said that they would raise council tax by up to 500 per cent on second homes.
The Conservative Party, meanwhile, has promised to outlaw Section 21 notices that allow landlords to evict tenants without a reason at the end of their contract. In addition to ending “no fault” evictions, the Tories also said that they would introduce a “lifetime deposit” scheme which would allow initial sums to be transferred from home to home, as well as more relaxed mortgage lending criteria.