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Labour announces plans to completely re-define Affordable Housing

Labour has today launched a green paper entitled "Housing for the Many" setting out their proposals for the UK housing market.

The green paper is a high level consultation document, which is heavy on policy announcements and somewhat lighter on the detail required to establish how they would be implemented. It is, however, both wide-ranging and comprehensive.

This post contains no commentary on the proposed plans - there are far too many of them. Instead it provides a list of the proposals - so you only have to read the 40 page green paper if you really want to do so.

In summary, the plans include:

Affordable Housing

  •  Replacing the current affordable housing tenures with three new forms of provision:  "Social Rented Homes", "Living Rented Homes" and "Low-cost Ownership Homes". These tenures will be tied to local average incomes, as opposed to the local housing market, with a view to ensuring that housing costs are kept at or below one-third of a household’s after-tax income.
  • Building one million 'genuinely affordable' homes over a 10 year period, most of which will be for social rent - with 100,000 of them to be built by the end of the first five years.
  • Setting a 'longer term' aim for half of all new homes built to be 'genuinely affordable'
  • Banning 'for profit' Housing Associations.

Role of Government

  •  Creating a new Department for Housing in Whitehall to spearhead all of these new initiatives; and a new 'Office for Housing Delivery' to monitor progress and audit delivery
  • Support Homes England in the delivery of new public sector house-building initiatives
  •  Suspending the Right to Buy and ending the conversion of social rented homes to other affordable tenures. Ending plans to make Councils sell their more expensive housing stock
  • Increasing Government investment in affordable housing - increasing grant investment and reinvesting housing benefit savings
  • Consult on a new 10 year rent settlement to support sustained investment
  • Lifting borrowing caps in Councils to make it easier for them to build.

Housing Benefits

  • Scrapping the 'bedroom tax', protecting housing benefit for the under 21s and pausing the roll out of Universal Credit until the issues with it have been resolved

Land Use Planning

  • Preventing privatisation of the Land Registry  and fast track the delivery of the 'public register of interests' in land - which will include option agreements.
  • Introducing a new duty to deliver affordable homes - linked to a new measure of local need; and backed by new 'accountability mechanisms'.
  • Ensuring public land will only be sold to developers who will prioritise affordable housing.
  • Introducing legislation to start work on the next generation of new towns and garden cities, with a new role for the National Infrastructure Commission.


  • Taking additional measures to help Councils with no housing stock or building experience start building - which may include an enabling grant.
  • Introducing measures to support the provision of apprenticeships, local recruitment, a skilled workforce and trade unions.

Regeneration & Empty Homes

  •  Ensuring estate regeneration schemes only progress with the support of a ballot of residents and if it can be guaranteed that there will be no loss of social housing. All existing tenants must be offered homes on the new site on the same terms.
  • Incentivising social landlords to bring empty homes back into use.
  • Allow Councils to charge a 300% council tax premium on properties that have been empty for more than a year and strengthen Empty Dwelling Management Orders to bring homes back into use.

Design and Safety

  •  Introducing a design guide for affordable housing to encourage first-class design. Appoint a 'Chief Architect' to advise on new affordable housing developments and consider a 'funding uplift' for bids that use local materials.
  •  Provide funding for insulating affordable homes  and prioritising providing zero carbon affordable homes.
  • Introduce mandatory minimum space standards for family homes and making the Lifetime Homes criteria a condition for public funding.
  • Ensure all high-rise council housing association tower blocks have sprinkler systems fitted
  • Consult on making the national system building control and fire safety inspection accountable to the public
  •  Introduce legislation to give tenants the right to take their landlords to court if their properties are not fit for habitation.
  • Consult on a new fire safety standard, including retro-fitting sprinkler systems and introducing a new repairs standard for affordable housing.


  • Introducing a range of measures to empower tenants of affordable housing and allow them to hold their landlords accountable.
  •  Clarifying the law to ensure that Councils can offer homes to local families first.
  • Work with Housing providers to clamp down on illegal subletting and fraud
  • Improve access to Legal Aid for Housing cases; and
  • Encourage more homes for the elderly and disabled.

The entire green paper can be downloaded from Inside Housing here:

The Labour leader and John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, set out the party’s plans to link affordability to people’s incomes on tenures including social rent, living rent and low-cost ownership, in the 40-page green paper, to be launched on Thursday.

Labour says one “common yardstick” is whether rent or a mortgage costs more than one-third of a household’s after-tax income.

A Labour government would also end the right to buy, which the Cameron government extended to cover tenants in social housing, ... Labour would also lift the cap on borrowing by local authorities, to allow councils to build more social housing themselves.”