Manifesto 2019:Tackle Poverty and Inequality - Housing
Everyone has the right to a decent, secure home. In 1945, Labour promised to ‘proceed with a housing programme with the maximum practical speed until every family in this island has a good standard of accommodation’. In 2019, we renew that pledge.
But too many people are being denied their right to a good home by our housing system that treats homes as financial assets rather than places to live.
There is no starker symbol of the failing housing system than the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire.
A Labour government will bring system-wide change, so that a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again. We will introduce a £1 billion Fire Safety Fund to fit sprinklers and other fire safety measures in all high- rise council and housing association tower blocks, enforce the replacement of dangerous Grenfell- style cladding on all high-rise homes and buildings, while introducing mandatory building standards and guidance, inspected and enforced by fully trained Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officers.
Grenfell Tower was the confirmation of a more far- reaching crisis. Everyone knows of someone affected by the housing crisis: younger people unable to buy a first home, renters trapped in damp flats, families stuck on council waiting lists, leasehold home-owners hit by unfair fees, people who are homeless living and dying on our streets. The gap between the housing haves and have-nots is at the heart of the injustice in our country today.
Since 2010, the Conservatives have slashed funding for new homes, refused to regulate for higher standards and given a free hand to commercial property developers. There are fewer new homes for social rent, a million more households stuck renting from a private landlord, 900,000 fewer young people owning a home and more than twice as many people sleeping on our streets.
Only Labour has a plan to fix the housing crisis. We will act on every front to bring the cost of housing down and standards up, so that everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home.
Labour will create a new Department for Housing, make Homes England a more accountable national housing agency and put councils in the driving seat. We will set out a strategy for a flourishing construction sector with a skilled workforce and full rights at work.
Labour will set up a new English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing. We will use public land to build this housing, not sell it off to the highest bidder. Developers will face new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing developments. We will keep the Land Registry in public hands, and make ownership of land more transparent. We will make brownfield sites the priority for development and protect the green belt.
Labour will tackle the climate crisis and cut energy bills by introducing a tough, new zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes, and upgrading millions of existing homes to make them more energy efficient. We will review the planning guidance for developments in flood risk areas.