A motion to the Labour Party conference today (Sept 24) commits the party to a policy of building 155,000 social rented council homes a year – with immediate effect when in Government.
And conference could also back councils having the powers and resources to take housing associations under direct council control.
The housebuilding motion references Shelter’s ‘A Vision for Social Housing’ report identifying a need for 3.1 million new social rented homes over the next 20 years – an average of 155,000 per year.
Conference will also vote on a pledge for least £10bn a year for housing grant, ringfenced for delivering the 155,000 homes, to be announced at the first Budget of a Labour Government.
There is also a call for conference to adopt a policy of ending Right-to-Buy to be announced on day one of a Labour Government and confirm a “clear commitment” that housing proposals passed as policy at Annual Conferences since 2017 will form a part of the radical housing policy included in the next Labour manifesto.
Under the last Labour Government’s National Affordable Homes Programme the grant available for councils to deliver new council housing was set at around £60,000 per home.
Considering inflation since then, at least £100,000 per home will be needed for councils to deliver social rented housing.
Under the policy of Right-to-Buy, over 1.8 million council properties in England have been sold to date – homes that have never been replaced one-for-one.
Jeremy Corbyn committed to building 100,000 council homes a year during his 2016 leadership campaign.
Noting the “failure” of Government to tackle the housing shortage and homelessness, another motion proposes a national housing and regeneration strategy with provision for a 50% increase in funding for housing and regeneration/infrastructure through grants and loans allied to national/local targets for affordability
With that comes the concept of regional banks and reforming Homes England to restore the former HCA roles in regeneration and commitment to tenants and communities.
Other proposals include:
- Give councils the powers and resources to take housing associations under direct council control
- Give councils increased Compulsory Purchase Order powers for empty homes and land assembly.
- The re-establishment of Local Housing Strategies with the same weight as the Local Plan
- Compulsory registration for the private rented sector with an overhaul of assured tenancies legislation leading to fairer rents and greater security of tenure
- Devolve enforcing of standards in the private rental sector
- Legislate for open-ended tenancies and a Tenants’ Rights Charter
Conference will also hear a call for government to use its powers under the Localism Act to reopen the 2012 debt settlement imposed on councils and cut the ‘debt’ in line with projected losses of rental income over the course of their 30 year business plans.
According to Labour’s figures, between 1994/5 and 2008/9 council tenants paid £31bn more in rent than was received by councils in annual ‘allowances’.
Conference will hear that the four year rent cut and a fourfold increase in Right to Buy sales mean that councils are collecting hundreds of million pounds less rent than projected in the 2012 settlement.
This would be backed by Labour committing to cancelling all HRA debt held by the Public Works Loans Board, when in government.