Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to review social housing policy, promising a ‘radical programme of action’ to bring to next year’s party conference with a guarantee to ensure every home is fit for human habitation if his party forms the next Government.
Corbyn told the Labour conference of plans for the reintroduction of rent controls as the current generation of tenants was now paying three times more than its grandparents. Other pledges included:
- A “use it or lose it” tax on undeveloped land held by developers; and
- Strengthened compulsory purchase powers.
“A decent home is a right for everyone – houses should be homes for the many, not speculative investments for the few,” Corbyn said.
He praised the efforts of Karen Buck MP, whose private member’s bill – the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill has passed its first reading and seeks to place greater responsibilities on landlords to provide accommodation that is both safe and comfortable to live in, while giving tenants greater rights of redress.
There was support for the Labour leader from David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, who said:
“We welcome the announcement of a comprehensive review into social housing policy and share the ambition to ensure everyone has a great quality home that they can afford.
“It is important that politicians from across the spectrum are committed to reconnecting with the purpose of social housing and with those who need genuinely affordable housing. Tenants are at the heart of social housing and the communities that housing associations invest in. It is absolutely right that their voices are heard.
“But while work on this review is underway, there are things we can and must do right now – like reallocating the unspent £1.1bn of Starter Homes investment in a new generation of high quality homes for social rent.”
However, the Residential Landlords Association was critical of Corbyn’s speech, with policy director David Smith describing the rent control proposals as an “attack” on private landlords, which would exacerbate current problems by reducing the supply and quality of homes as landlords are forced out of the market.
“Instead of attacking landlords who are helping to provide homes, it would be better to treat them as part of the solution and to supplement their efforts with a sustained and well thought out building programme overseen by government” he added. The RLA has been lobbying both Conservative and Labour to reverse recent budget tax changes on landlords and to encourage their growth as a means of tackling the country’s housing shortage.