Labour pledges genuinely affordable housing for the many

Labour has pledged to deliver a million new “genuinely” affordable homes over 10 years and provide a new definition of affordable housing which is linked to income.

Speaking at the launch of Labour's green paper: Housing for the Many this morning, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laid out what he describes as the symptoms of the housing crisis in stark terms: lengthy council home waiting lists, children in insecure accommodation, increased rough sleeping and the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Corbyn said government should intervene to directly meet these challenges because private developers couldn’t.

Key proposals Labour are consulting on include:

  • Ending the viability “loophole” to ensure more private affordable housing is built
  • Redefining affordable housing by scrapping the term “affordable rent” and introducing a new definition linked to incomes
  • Giving councils a “duty to deliver” affordable housing, with a new needs assessment and enhanced new homes bonus for affordable housing
  • A new English Sovereign Land Trust to make more land available and central funding to get councils and housing associations building at scale
  • A dedicated Department for Housing to drive through the new housing deal

The consultation also deals with issues raised by the Grenfell Tower tragedy:

  • A new ‘Decent Homes 2’ target for social landlords, to include fire safety for the first time, a new independent national organisation and a Commissioner to represent the views of tenants
  • Increasing transparency in the social housing sector by extending the Freedom of Information Act to housing associations and ensuring fire safety reports are made public
  • Fast-track reforms to allow tenants to take council and housing association landlords to court if their homes aren’t safe

Labour argues that these proposals would see house building occur at a scale not seen since the 1970s. But it’s not just the numbers which are important here. Councils would be empowered to once again become the major providers of genuinely affordable housing.

This would be a substantive change in government housing policy direction. It accepts the idea that the housing market has fundamentally failed and there’s a need for national and local government to lead on housebuilding. This would go some way to providing decent affordable housing as a basic right.

We’re two weeks away from the local elections and Labour hopes their unashamedly radical housing agenda will be at the forefront of voters’ minds.

This article was written by Kashif Taher, Account Executive at MPC.