What does Labour’s new green paper ‘Housing for the many’ mean in practice?26/04/18
Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey launched Labour’s green paper on social housing last week. The headline statistic is that Labour plan to build one million new homes over the next 10 years.
Other key concepts that Jeremy delivered in his speech include:
- ‘Affordable rent’ is redefined and the party plan to link affordability to people’s incomes on tenures including social rent, living rent and low-cost ownership. This strategy crucially links rent to income rather than local market rent values. The report accuses government of stretching the term ‘affordable’ to include homes let at up to 80% of market rents and homes for sale up to £450,000.
- This redefinition means that Labour plan to support not just for the poorest in society but also for those 'just coping'. The measure applied to both groups will be whether rent or a mortgage costs more than a third of a household’s after-tax income.
- This redefinition is also tackling head-on those people caught up in the bracket of 'intentionally homeless', which releases a local authority’s duty of care.
- A newDepartment of Housing and an independent watchdog.
- Right to buy would be scrapped.
- Local authorities gain financial power to borrow money amid a centralised funding structure for new builds.
- Local authorities will have the borrowing cap lifted meaning councils will be able to build more social housing themselves.
- Post-Grenfell Labour proposes a new standard for 'decent' social housing which includes fire safety guidelines. Resident feedback is also featured.
What does this mean for the housing sector?
Britain faces an acute housing affordability crisis, with around 1.7m private rented households currently paying more than a third of their income in rent. And 1m owner-occupiers paying more than a third of their income on their mortgage.
We welcome any debate which contributes to finding a solution to the housing crisis. In effect, Labour’s green paper throws down the gauntlet to the government, especially in relation to the definitions of ‘affordability’. It's unknown when the government will respond to this challenge but it's likely to be before the one year anniversary of the Grenfell disaster.
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