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What a new Labour government means for you

As Labour wins the 2024 general election, here’s what it means for housing.


Article by Rebecca Gamble in Home Owners Alliance


As Sir Keir Starmer gets the keys to Number 10 Downing Street, the new government is expected to move quickly on its housing manifesto pledges.

In the days before the election, the new Prime Minister promised to ‘hit the ground running’ and turbocharge housebuilding from ‘day one’, in an interview with the Sunday Times.

At least three housing announce­ments are expected to be made in the first fortnight of a Labour government, including a local authority-led review of green belt land, the paper reported. And before the end of the month, the new government intends to publish a draft national planning policy framework, reimposing targets to ensure that councils are meeting local housing needs, according to the newspaper.


Labour’s housing promises


Based on what was promised in Labour’s housing manifesto before the election, here’s what we should expect from the new Labour government.


1. Housebuilding targets will return


Labour have pledged to build 1.5 million new homes during their term and promised to reintroduce mandatory housing targets.

Building targets are key to encourage local decision makers to drive through housing plans in the face of NIMBYISM. Addressing this Labour said, ‘We will ensure local communities continue to shape housebuilding in their area, but where necessary Labour will not be afraid to make full use of intervention powers to build the houses we need.’

However, we’ll wait to see how Labour are going to solve all the problems that have stopped Britain hitting new homes targets for 30 years.

We are also holding out hope that Labour will produce a National Housebuilding Strategy so we have the vision, detail, milestones and targets for delivering more homes.


2. Leasehold flats will be banned


Leasehold reforms finally made it into law this year under the previous Conservative government after it acknowledged the leasehold system was outdated and unfair. While these reforms help improve the current system they fell short of abolishing leasehold on all new flats.

It’s our view that the only argument for retaining leaseholds on flats is so that management agencies and freeholders can exploit homeowners to line their pockets. It needs to end.

Thankfully, Labour plans to ban new leasehold flats and for commonhold to be the default tenure going forward.

Labour also promises to tackle the issue of unfair ground rent for existing leaseholders and the issue of ‘Fleecehold’ (whereby you buy a house with a combination of freehold and leasehold terms. It usually means you own the land, but you have to pay onerous annual or monthly fees to a third party to maintain it and is arguably the next big housing scandal). You can see the strength of feeling from the almost 1000 comments we have received on our estate charges guide. The first step in remedying this situation will be to make it mandatory for all future new build estates to be adopted by local authorities and to ban all future estate rent charges.


3. More social housing and affordable housing


Labour has vowed to deliver ‘the biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation’. In its manifesto, Labour explained how it will “strengthen planning obligations” to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes, make changes to the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) to “ensure that it delivers more homes from existing funding”, and support councils and housing associations to build their capacity and “make a greater contribution to affordable housing supply”. 

It promises to build new social rented homes and better protect existing stock by reviewing Right to Buy discounts and increase protections on newly built social housing.

In our view, one quick win would be to appoint a statutory new homes ombudsman to protect new homebuyers including shared owners and those buying retirement properties.


4. First time buyers will be prioritised


Labour pledged to ‘work with local authorities to give first-time buyers the first chance to buy homes’ so they’re not sold off to international investors before they’re even built. We support this move but wonder how it will be implemented so as not to undermine the house building target.

It has also promised to launch a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme, though it’s not clear how it will differ from the current mortgage guarantee scheme and what the real impact will be.

The current mortgage guarantee scheme was introduced to stimulate lenders to offer 95% mortgages, and most lenders now offer these anyway, so take up of the scheme is low. It’s also not something you as a first time buyer will necessarily be aware of as you don’t apply for the scheme, it’s something lenders can decide to use or not. But let’s see what the new Labour government has planned.


Labour’s manifesto at a glance

Here’s an overview of Labour’s election housing manifesto promises.

House-building

Restore mandatory house-building targets immediately. Pledge to build 1.5 million new homes during term.

Planning reform

Take tough action to ensure planning authorities have up-to-date Local Plans and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Fund additional planning officers.

Green belt

Will take a brownfield-first approach. Committed to the green belt and will take a strategic approach.

First time buyers

Launch of a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme. First time buyers will get chance to buy homes before international investors.

Renters

Will overhaul the regulation of private rented sector and immediately abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, empower them to challenge unreasonable rent increases, and raise standards.

Energy efficiency

Plan to double investment (an extra £6.6 bn) to upgrade 5 million homes. The Warm Homes Plan will offer grants and low interest loans for insulation, solar panels, batteries and low carbon heating to cut bills.

Building safety

Will take “decisive action” to improve building safety through new regulation.

Leaseholders

Will enact Law Commission proposals on leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage and commonhold. Will ban new leasehold flats and ensure commonhold is the default tenure. Promises to review how to better protect leaseholders, including tackling unregulated and “unaffordable” ground rent charges.

Fleecehold

Will bring the injustice of ‘fleecehold’ private housing estates and unfair maintenance costs to an end.

Stamp duty

Will increase the rate of the stamp duty surcharge paid by non-UK residents

New towns

Will build a ‘new generation of new towns’

Social and affordable housing

Will deliver the biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation.

Right to Buy

Will review the increased Right to Buy discounts introduced in 2012

Capital Gains Tax

Will not introduce capital gains tax on private homes, but will close the loophole “where private equity is the only industry where performance related pay is treated as capital gains.”

Homelessness

Will develop a new cross-government strategy, working with Mayors and Councils across the country, to put Britain back on track to ending homelessness.


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