Labour Party manifesto – summary and reaction

By admin Jun14,2024

Housing targets

The Labour Party pledged to build 1.5 million new homes over the course of the parliament. While this is lower than the housing targets from the Conservatives (1.6 million) and Liberal Democrats (1.9 million), Labour said the numbers will be imposed, as there will be mandatory housing targets for local authorities.

Combined Authorities – A group of councils coming together – would be granted new planning powers, along with freedoms and flexibilities to make better use of grant funding.

Colin Brown, head of planning & development at Carter Jonas said: “This offers hope that we will see an uptick in new homes being built.”

Section 21 & Renters Reform Bill

Labour’s manifesto pledges to ‘immediately’ abolish Section 21. The party said it would prevent private renters being exploited and discriminated against, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and take steps to raise standards, including extending ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector, which means landlords must begin investigating known or reported hazards within 14 calendar days.

Mark Bailey, group partner at Landwood, said: “Labour’s pledge to ‘immediately’ abolish Section 21 is intended to benefit renters, but fails to recognise the significant challenges faced by landlords. Regardless of this, removing the ability of a landlord to obtain possession if and when required, is likely to reduce the amount of private housing available to rent as private landlords exit the market.”

Social housing

The party pledged to kickstart the biggest increase to social housebuilding ‘in a generation’.

The Labour leaders have been citing former PM Clement Attlee’s name as a key inspiration in their policymaking. Attlee was the PM who helped the UK gear up its housing stock, as well as establishing the National Health Service after the Second World War.

Sam Mitchell, chief executive of Purplebricks, said: “Only by addressing this issue, which has been compounding since the mass-sell off of council houses in the 1980s, can we truly reopen the door to homeownership in the UK. This could significantly reduce pressure on the private rented sector.”

New towns

As publicised previously, Labour wants to create new towns, a policy it compared to the 1945 Labour government. These towns would sit in tandem with urban extensions and regeneration projects.

Colin Brown, head of planning & development at Carter Jonas, said: “We have no issue with that as part of a balanced overall development strategy, but it will be important not to place all eggs in one basket, given the long lead-in times for delivery of entirely new communities.”

The ‘grey belt’

Labour is differentiating itself from the other parties by pledging to build homes on what it dubbed the ‘grey belt’, which it defined as low quality areas of the green belt. Its manifesto says: “The release of lower quality ‘grey belt’ land will be prioritised and we will introduce ‘golden rules’ to ensure development benefits communities and nature.”

Anne Jennings, associate director of landscape architecture at Lanpro, on ecology and biodiversity, said: “Labour have recently introduced grey-belt into the lexicon being land identified within the green belt for development. There is a fine balance to be found between the understandable aim of addressing the housing need and continuing to release green belt land for development, no matter what its colour-delineation. This is a thorny issue with many opinions and concerns but Labour commit taking a more strategic approach underpinned by ‘golden rules’ announced in April.”

Local authority resourcing

The party pledged to support local authorities by spending money on more planning officers. This increased funding would be raised by charging more stamp duty on non-UK residents, despite them already paying a 2% surcharge.

Colin Brown, head of planning & development at Carter Jonas, said: “There is no doubt that the planning system has suffered badly due to under-resourced local planning authorities and while we do not yet know how much extra funding will be available, this is a positive statement.”

‘First dibs’ for first-time buyers

Labour plans to favour first-time buyers by giving them first dibs on new developments, as well as ending “the farce of entire developments being sold off to international investors before houses are even built”.

How the party would achieve that aim isn’t entirely clear, though the party pledged to work with local authorities to make first-time buyers the priority.

Katie Pender, managing director of Target, said: “First-time buyers are facing the toughest conditions seen in 70 years. Labour’s manifesto proposals do seem to offer this group some reasons for hope. “

Land capture

Labour would reform compulsory purchase compensation rules in a bid to improve land assembly, speed up site delivery, and deliver housing, infrastructure, amenity, and transport improvements.

The party said it would ensure landlords are awarded fair compensation, rather than inflated prices based on the prospect of planning permission.

Jon Stott, group managing director of Ardent, said: “Removing the right to receive market value for land is unfair and may have the reverse effect. Developers will be more cautious when trying to assemble sites if there is a risk it could be compulsorily acquired from them at a lower price than they paid. Landowners will likely resist compulsory acquisition. This compensation approach harks back to a short period post WW2 when landowners were paid at agricultural value for the first wave of new towns. However, this approach was short lived as many deemed it unfair. This paved the way for the ‘market value’ approach to be introduced that has been used for the last 50 plus years.”

Mortgage guarantee scheme

As previously reported, Labour wants to launch a mortgage guarantee scheme in a bid to keep lending with a 5% deposit alive.

Danny Belton, head of lending, Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “Labour’s pledge to introduce a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme would be welcome support for first-time buyers.”

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