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Housing and Homes

Part of Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 15th May 2018.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Housing 4:45 pm, 15th May 2018

I am surprised if the hon. Gentleman has not already done so, but he should read the housing manifesto that I launched with the Labour leader during the election campaign last year. It pledged longer tenancies, with a cap on the rent increases during that period. I shall come to the Labour plans for private renters in a minute. This debate is about differing views and very different visions of the housing problems that people face and the solutions that the country requires.

Our determination to get built the new genuinely affordable homes that are needed in this country was redoubled after the terrible Grenfell Tower fire. When the Grenfell survivors who contributed to our review say that

“tenants were victims before the fire” and

“we’re treated as second class citizens in social housing”,

it is clear that radical, root-and-branch reform is required, so we will build more and we will build better, as the public sector has always done in housing. We will have leading-edge standards on energy efficiency and smart-tech design, so that Labour’s new affordable homes will be people’s best choice, not their last resort.

A huge majority of us in Britain aspire to buy our own home, yet the dream is currently denied to millions, especially young people facing a lifetime locked out of the housing market. We set out in our Green Paper a plan for Labour’s living rent homes, which would have rents set at no more than a third of average local household incomes and would be aimed at ordinary working families, young people and key workers—those who need to be able to save a bit for a deposit or who need a bit more to spend on the other things they need.

Labour’s low-cost home ownership home would be a new type of low-cost home, called first-buy homes. Again, they would be discounted, so that mortgage payments would be no more than a third of average local incomes. Crucially, the discount on those homes would be locked in so that it could potentially benefit not just the first first-time buyer, but future first-time buyers.