Labour sets out its alternative to the “unworkable” Tory housing plan

Katie Neame
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“Absolutely unworkable in practice, because the government hasn’t, as usual, done the leg work.” That was Lisa Nandy’s assessment of the plan the government will set out today to help drive up home ownership rates. Boris Johnson will announce the new measures in a speech in Blackpool this afternoon, which is being teed up as a government reset following Monday’s far from convincing confidence vote win.

A key proposal the Prime Minister is expected to announce is allowing people to use housing benefit to contribute towards a mortgage. Nandy told Sky News that the government “hasn’t thought through the detail” of this proposal, as there is no sign any mortgage lenders are on board: “Unless the lenders agree to do it, it’s not gonna happen.” The Shadow Levelling Up Secretary added that the “only way to really solve the housing crisis for most people” is to increase the supply of affordable homes and argued that some of the government’s measures would make the housing supply crisis “even worse”.

Labour will today lay out its alternative plan for housing. In a debate marking five years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Nandy will urge the government to take action to give renters and leaseholders greater security in their homes. The opposition will call for the government to prioritise the renters’ reform bill promised in the Queen’s Speech and for an additional leaseholder reform bill to be introduced.

Labour proposes that the latter bill should seek to end the sale of new private leasehold houses, introduce a “workable system” to replace private leasehold flats with commonhold and crack down on unfair fees and contract terms, among other things. Nandy is expected to say in today’s debate that Grenfell was the “product of a housing system that is broken and gives too little control and power for people in their own homes” and call for further and faster action to address the problems in the UK’s housing market.

We have had a couple of interesting pieces on housing recently: Chair of the all-party parliamentary group for rental reform Lloyd Russell-Moyle argued that the renters’ reform bill could transform the lives of millions of tenants – but that a concerted lobbying effort by renters’ groups and others will be required to ensure the legislation is effective; while Labour Housing Group vice chair Rachel Blake wrote that the renters’ reform bill, in its current form, “lacks any real substance and lets renters down“.

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