Food and shelter are necessities of health and wellbeing and we believe everyone has and a right in a civilised society to a decent, secure home. Poorer housing is associated with poorer health; all the evidence supports our policy of improving housing to improve health-related quality of life.
Our policies are designed around housing as somewhere for people to live, rather than just another investment for profit.
After a generation when publicly owned housing has been sold off cheaply into the private sector, we want the “Right to buy” policy phased out and scrapped, and to reinstate a healthy, sustainable social housing sector. Where homeowners face eviction because they can no longer afford their mortgage, we propose setting up a mechanism under which they can convert to a tenancy on affordable terms.
We call for a vigorous programme of social housing, including improving and upgrading current housing stock and tackling the number of empty homes. This will improve public health among our growing population and boost the economy, benefiting everyone.
Local Authorities must be free to finance the building of more affordable social housing by borrowing against their income from existing housing stock; housing associations must return to their roots as local community organisations, with a specific mission to address local housing needs.
New private property developments must contain a good proportion of genuinely affordable housing and developers must not be allowed to re-negotiate the planning consent to their own advantage once granted.
We will oppose any so-called “regeneration” that aims to clear out local people in pursuit of private profit.
There should be immediate addition of proportionate council tax bands to accommodate the reality of soaring top property values.
Housing Benefit is the transfer of public money into the pockets of private landlords. Speculation, fraudulent lending and hoarding for rent pushes up this private take – of money that would be better spent on building more publicly owned homes.
We reject the free market “solution” to the housing crisis, which is to remove planning controls to let developers build wherever they see a profit, regardless of local objections. Development should be for the benefit of local people by creating affordable homes, with due regard for infrastructure to sustain local health and wellbeing – including health, education and recreational facilities, sustainable green transport facilities and protection of natural habitats.
- We would restore the presumption in favour of brownfield sites for development before greenfield sites.
- House building and modification should be as efficient as possible, using as little energy and water, and producing as little waste as can be reasonably achieved. Investing in a national infrastructure with these objectives would generate jobs and increase energy security. We would examine the evidence on using carbon taxes/rebates to drive this effort.
- We would re-examine the evidence around large infrastructure projects such as HS2, to assess whether the billions of public investment required would yield better returns for the community, economy and social development if redirected into our house-building project.
- We believe there is a strong case for a progressive tax on property. We would examine the evidence around the ability of a national Land Value Tax to suppress the speculation and land-hoarding that currently drives up house prices, and deter the massive rise in speculative property purchase for profit by overseas investors who may never set foot in the country and have no interest in its well-being. Any such tax would have to protect designated public spaces such as parks and the Green Belt, while encouraging the development of well-designed communities.
- We oppose privatisation of the Land Registry and call for this vital national monitor to be returned to public ownership, resourced appropriately, to record all property ownership accurately and help prevent tax avoidance and evasion.
- We believe that the use of tax havens to purchase and own UK property in order to avoid taxation must be made illegal. All property in the UK should be purchased only through a UK bank account, with strict money laundering controls. We would look at the evidence around possible regulations on house purchase by non UK residents.
- Tenants should be protected by regulation of rented property to ensure it is safe, hygienic, and energy-efficient.
- We support rent controls and extended tenancy agreements, with the sitting tenants offered first refusal, to protect tenants and prevent rent inflation (which generally transfers to an increased burden on the public purse).
- We support the introduction of a national register of landlords to improve private rental standards across the country. Local Authorities must have a statutory duty and sufficient funding from local and central government to identify poor quality housing and enforce improvements.
- Every property must be certified as fit for purpose before being put on the rental market.