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Labour announce plans to 'end the housing crisis'

Friday 28 September 2018

In his speech at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool earlier this week, Labour's Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP criticised the PMs statement on affordable housing as “falling short of what's needed” and pledged a raft of measures to bring an end to the UK's housing crisis.

The slogan for this year's conference was 'Rebuilding Britain for the many, not the few' which was firmly cemented in Mr Healey's opening speech.

Taking to the stage he began: “The next Labour Government will be the most radical Government on housing since that great post-war Labour Government, and we will do whatever it takes to end this Tory housing crisis.”

Homes for the many

During his speech, he pledged that Labour will embark on the biggest council housebuilding programme for over 30 years, building for those who need it most – the very poorest and most vulnerable – and for those in work, on ordinary incomes, who are priced out of the housing market, and being failed by current housing policy.

The Labour MP hit back at the Prime Minister's former £2 billion affordable housing pledge, and promised to put power in the hands of tenants through the creation of a £20 million fund to set up and support the expansion of renters' unions, describing how tenants have been hit with a rise of more than £1,800 a year in private rents since 2010. 

Citing that home-ownership has fallen to a 30-year low and rough sleeping having doubled since 2010, Healey promised change; radical, deliverable change. He vowed low income first-time buyers would be eligible to buy properties with mortgages a third cheaper than the norm, as part of Labour’s Low Cost Homes to Buy, and committed to bring an end to rough sleeping within a parliament. 

Tax on second homes

Healey also announced that Labour will introduce a new tax on holiday homes to help tackle homelessness and rising wealth inequality. Under Labour's plans, second properties that are used as holiday homes would be subject to a national levy based on the value of the property, equivalent to double the current rate of council tax. 

Up to 174,000 properties could be subject to the levy, which could raise an estimated £560 million a year, with rural areas like Cornwall, North Norfolk and South Lakeland, and urban areas like Kensington and Chelsea, likely to be affected.

The money raised would be earmarked for councils across the country to help homeless families with children living in temporary accommodation.

How will all of this be achieved?

To show how committed they are to housing causes, a Labour Government would set up a dedicated and fully-fledged housing department to oversee the new policies and initiatives. They would ensure housing is about 'homes for the many, not investment opportunities for the few' and would be tasked with improving the number, standards and affordability of homes.

Speaking to the conference, the Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “Britain's rapidly rising homelessness shames us all. It is unforgivable that under the Tories, the number of children stuck growing up in hostels and B&Bs has skyrocketed.

“Over the last eight years, the Government has turned its back on the scandal of poor housing and homelessness. A housing market that works for the many needs Government action to ensure everyone has a place to call home.

“As part of the next Labour Government's plan to rebuild Britain, we will introduce a levy on second homes used as holiday homes to help homeless families. Labour will act to put a brake on the growing gap between Britain's housing 'haves' and 'have-nots'.”