labour-make-pitch-to-be-‘party-of-home-ownership’-ahead-of-conference

Labour make pitch to be ‘party of home ownership’ ahead of conference

Labour have made a pitch to be the “party of home ownership” ahead of their annual conference. 

The party have unveiled plans to force developers to sell homes to first-time buyers for six months after construction.

They also propose to stop foreign buyers purchasing “swathes” of new developments, by capping the number of flats which can be sold to overseas buyers at 50%.

Some meaty new policy from me and ⁦@UKLabour⁩ ahead of conference this weekend – to help create far more truly afford homes, give first-time buyers first dibs ahead of landlords, and rebalance the power between councils & developers 👇 https://t.co/i86oPeZIf4

— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) September 23, 2021

Housing spokesperson Lucy Powell MP, who will detail the plans in a speech on Sunday, said: “Labour is the party of home ownership, the Tories are the party of speculators and developers.

“They treat housing as a commodity, not the bedrock of stable lives and life chances.”

The party say that, if elected, they would give local authorities and communities new powers to buy and develop land for affordable housing, in order to increase their leverage with developers.

Labour party chairman Annaliese Dodds told Kay Burley on Sky News that the rate of home ownership had plummeted among people under 45 and that the party planned to “radically change things”.

“First of all we need requirements for affordable housing that actually mean something”, she said.

“At the moment the government definition of affordability relates to the overall market cost of housing, that is so far out of many people’s reach that it is meaningless pretty much.

“Instead we would peg that affordability to people’s actual wages, which would make so much more sense. It would force developers to be providing far more genuinely affordable housing that people really need.”

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The decision to prioritise those entering the housing market builds on the policy announced by Jeremy Corbyn before the 2019 election to build 50,000 homes a year just for first-time buyers.

The homebuilding industry say much in the Labour plans is not new, but that anything to help first-time buyers – who already buy a large proportion of new homes – is welcome.

A spokesperson for the Homebuilders Federation told Sky News that such a policy would need to be “realistic and targeted at the right-priced homes”.

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Minister: Deposits the ‘biggest barrier’ to home ownership

The party – which is currently embroiled in a row about changing the rules for leadership elections – say this policy is “taking the fight to the Conservatives”.

They say high housing costs are not just an issue in London, but particularly acute in tourist hotspots such as the Cornwall and the Lake District where local people cannot afford to rent.

Ms Powell said requirements for developers to build affordable housing were too low, because it was defined as up to 80% of market rents – which is out of reach for people on middle to low incomes.

She said Labour would reform compulsory purchase powers – laws which allow government to purchase land at current market values but are rarely used – to enable local authorities to acquire land for affordable housing if it is in the public interest.