Party Political Conference Housing Policy Round Up 2019

11/10/19

As the three main political party conferences have drawn to a close, it’s clear the subject of housing policy was low on the agenda for all.  With no real shock announcements to dominate the headlines, the main topics discussed had all been anticipated in advance.  Read on for a short summary of the key points made by each party.

Liberal Democrat Party - Scrapping Section 21

As expected, the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth passed a motion to scrap Section 21.  Those supporting the motion gave a familiar list of shortcomings in parts of the private rental sector including too few homes, too high rents, insecurity of tenure and what they claimed to be the widespread exploitation of tenants by landlords.

In response, ARLA chief executive David Cox described the decision as another attack on the sector commenting; “Although in the majority of cases there is no need for Section 21 to be used, there are times when a landlord has no choice but to take action and evict tenants from a property. The proposed commitment will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing in buy-to-let properties. This comes at a time when demand is dramatically outpacing supply, and rent costs are rising.”

Labour Party - Building of 155,000 social rented homes a year

Housing is a policy area that matters to Labour’s grassroots supporters.  On the final morning of the conference, delegates voted unanimously in favour of building 155,000 social rented homes a year, at least 100,000 of which should be council properties, adding up to a minimum of just over 3 million additional such properties over a 20-year period. This would be paid for by increasing housing grants to £10bn a year, to be announced at the first budget of a Labour government.  The Labour party has also said it would scrap council tenants’ right to buy on Day One of Mr Corbyn entering Downing Street.

The Labour conference’s goal that housing investment should be boosted to £10bn goes much further than its officially sanctioned figure of £4bn, which in turn is more than twice as much the £1.7bn allocated by the government for housing capital investment last year.

Rent Control has also been added to the list of items that will be "considered by a future Labour government". In addition, Labour has said will make new three-year tenancies the norm, with an inflation cap on rent rises. Labour also said they will give additional powers to the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan to give extra security to tenants in London, although they have not been specific what these additional powers will be at this stage.

Conservative Party – Need to build homes of all tenures

Anyone hoping for news relating to the Private Rented Sector was sadly disappointed at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester too.  The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, told delegates there was a need to build new homes ‘of all tenures’ and outlined a four-point plan for housing.

He promised:

  • To promote home ownership
  • To reform an ‘outdated and contradictory’ planning system
  • That no new homes from 2025 will be built without low carbon heating and the highest levels of energy efficiency
  • That new homes will be well designed – with the introduction of the first national design guide

He spoke of homeownership bringing security, dignity and independence”, going on to pledge to “redouble” efforts to boost ownership.

He outlined plans allowing housing association tenants the right to shared ownership of their homes and proposals to allow families to build up to two storeys onto their home without planning permission.
 


 

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