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. The rights of local people to determine the way development happens in their area through the Neighbourhood Planning process should be strengthened. 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.
Sensible, sustainable investment
- Ban the sale of local authority homes and housing association property, unless sale can finance more and better social public housing in the area on the same terms.
- Reinstate government house-building programmes for truly affordable homes, including new social housing, improving and upgrading current housing stock and tackling the number of empty homes.
- 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.
- 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.
Fair taxation of land and housing
- Introduce further council tax bands to reflect the reality of soaring top property values, with extra monies gathered going to building up the local public housing property portfolio.
- 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 foreign speculators.
Greater protection for tenants
- Tenants should be protected by regulation of rented property to ensure it is safe, hygienic, and energy-efficient.
- We support 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.