Housing - policies in detail

  • Resume direct investment in council and other social housing and allow local authorities to use receipts from sales to fund new affordable accommodation. In particular, while the building trade remains depressed because of the recession we would provide £2bn in 2010 rising to £4bn in 2011 to local authorities to expand social housing, mainly through conversion and renovation, and create 80,000 jobs.
  • There are about one million empty homes. Halve this number through empty property use orders.
  • Provide more rights for homeless people, giving local authorities the same duties with regard to single people and childless couples as to families, and ending the practice of declaring people ‘intentionally homeless’.
  • Take steps to ensure that development is more evenly distributed across the whole of the country, so reducing pressure on housing in the South East in particular.
  • Minimise encroachment onto undeveloped ‘greenfield sites’ wherever possible by reusing previously developed sites that have fallen into disuse.
  • End the right to buy and introduce the right to rent. People facing severe difficulties with paying their mortgage and facing repossession should have a right to rent their existing home as council housing, analogous but opposite to the Tory ‘right to buy’. We would make up to £2bn per annum available to local authorities to support ‘right to rent.’
  • Introduce a free home insulation programme for all homes that need it, with priority for pensioners and those living in fuel poverty, aiming to insulate 4 million homes every year. Such a programme would cost £2bn in 2010 rising to £4bn a year and create 80,000 jobs.
  • Introduce incentives totalling £2bn per annum to encourage homes to become more energy self-sufficient by aiming for 1,000,000 solar roofs, and support generous feed-in tariffs for micro-generation, creating 40,000 jobs in the installation industries.
  • Abolish standing charges on fuel bills and set tariffs to favour smaller consumers.
  • Set building regulations to require excellent energy standards on a points-based system, which will cover embodied energy of building materials, energy used in construction, energy consumption in use, on-site energy generation and use of heat distribution networks.
  • Increase the tax-free amount on the ‘Rent a Room’ scheme from £4,250 to £9,000 a year. This would reduce repossessions, provide more affordable housing and make better use of the existing housing stock.
  • Support self-build social co-operatives.
  • Accept that climate change will mean that some housing cannot be protected from flooding in a sustainable way, and assist financially those whose homes become uninhabitable. Also invest £1bn in sustainable flood defences and sustainable drainage systems, creating 20,000 jobs, and ensure that insurance is available for flooding.
  • Oppose new arm’s length management organisations and ensure genuine tenant participation in existing ones.
  • Ensure that new housing proposals are based on independent housing needs surveys. Commercial house builders and their representatives should not be involved in the process.