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Labour promises Help to Buy revamp and major social housing programme in manifesto

  • 21/11/2019
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Labour promises Help to Buy revamp and major social housing programme in manifesto
The Labour Party has committed to reforming the Help to Buy scheme so that it focuses on first-time buyers “on ordinary incomes” in its election manifesto.


The Help to Buy pledge follows a report from the Public Accounts Committee back in September that the majority of people that used the scheme “did not need it” as only a third (37 per cent) of those who used Help to Buy would have been unable to afford a house otherwise.


Home ownership

The manifesto also includes the pledge that more “low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers” will be built in all areas, with discounted house prices linked to local incomes. A levy will also be introduced on “overseas companies” buying housing in the UK.

There are also promises to give councils powers to tax properties that have been empty for more than a year, while leaseholders will be given “the right to buy their freehold at a price they can afford”.


Tough on landlords who ‘flout the rules’

On renting, landlords will be limited by capping rent increases at the level of inflation, while individual cities will be given powers to restrict them further.

There is also the promise of “new open-ended tenancies” to prevent unfair evictions, with higher minimum standards for the quality of properties on the rental market, “enforced through nationwide licensing and tougher sanctions for landlords who flout the rules”. 

In addition there will be renters unions in every part of the country, funded by the government, “to allow renters to organise and defend their rights”, while landlords will no longer be expected to check the immigration status of tenants.


The house building programme

A new separate Department of Housing will be established if Labour wins a majority, alongside an English Sovereign Land Trust with the power to purchase public land for low-cost housing, with developers faced with “new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing developments”.

The party also commits to a new social house building programme, with the target of more than a million homes over a decade. That includes at least 150,000 council and social homes each year, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent.

What’s more the current definition of affordable housing will be scrapped, with a new definition linked to local incomes.

The manifesto continues: “These council and housing association homes will be more affordable than market housing and built to higher standards.”


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