Labour promises “housing revolution” to build 100,000 council homes a year

Elliot Chappell

Labour will promise to “kick-start a housing revolution” as it unveils fresh manifesto commitments that would bring about the UK’s biggest council housebuilding programme for decades.

The manifesto being launched by Jeremy Corbyn in Birmingham on Thursday will include radical proposals for housing that have been advocated by key campaigners in the party and will reflect part of the policy motion passed at conference.

Labour will vow to build 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years. This figure includes an increase in the building of council homes to 100,000 a year and genuinely affordable homes to 50,000 a year by the end of the parliament.

As part of the plans, Labour will abolish the Tory definition of so-called ‘affordable’ housing, which allows rents of up to 80% of market rate, and replace it with one linked to local incomes.

Labour’s plans include:

  • building 100,000 council homes a year by the end of the parliament, an increase of more than 3,500%;
  • building at least 50,000 additional genuinely affordable homes a year through housing associations by the end of the parliament;
  • delivering at least 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years.

The government definition of ‘affordable’ will be replaced by:

  • social rent homes, with rents set by an established national formula at around half the cost of market rents;
  • living rent homes, with rents linked to a third of average local incomes;
  • low-cost ownership, including discount homes for sale, where mortgage costs are linked to a third of average local incomes.

Half of Labour’s social transformation fund – around £75bn over five years – will be allocated to housing in order to fund the new commitments. Under the fresh plans, new homes will be built to meet green standards.

“Housing should be for the many, not a speculation opportunity for dodgy landlords and the wealthy few,” Jeremy Corbyn said. “I am determined to create a society where working class communities and young people have access to affordable, good quality council and social homes.”

There are currently more than one million households stuck on council housing waiting lists, more than 10,000 people living in emergency accommodation, and 3.6 million people living in overcrowded accommodation in the UK.

Labour’s housing spokesperson, John Healey, commented: “The next Labour government will kick-start a housing revolution, with the biggest investment in new council and social homes this country has seen for decades.

“Labour’s transformational housing plans will mean thousands more genuinely affordable homes for people on ordinary incomes in every area of the country. Our modern council and social housing will be built to cutting-edge design and green standards providing a long-term investment in our country’s future.”

Labour has cited the award-winning Goldsmith Street development in Norwich, which involved almost 100 highly energy-efficient homes, as an example of the standard of housing that will be delivered.

400,000 people are currently homeless or at risk of being homeless. Despite the severity of the housing crisis, official figures show that the number of government-funded affordable homes for social rent built fell by 90% last year, to fewer than 1,000.

The last time the country built more than 150,000 council and housing association homes combined in a year was 1967. The new plans to be laid out by Labour on Thursday would represent the biggest increase in council housebuilding since the Clement Attlee government.

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