Labour announces green paper: “Housing for the Many”

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. The areas covered include:

  • Affordable Housing
  • Role of Government
  • Housing Benefits
  • Land Use Planning
  • Delivery
  • Regeneration & Empty Homes
  • Design and Safety

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

Commenting on the launch Carl Dyer, Head of Planning at Irwin Mitchell

“In 1977 Olivia Newton John sang a love song: ‘Making a Good Thing Better’. 40 years later Labour has just published its own version: a Green Paper which could be sub-titled ‘Making a Bad Thing Worse’.

“We have a national housing crisis, largely as a result of a dysfunctional town and country planning system, and many of Labour’s new proposals would make it worse.

“One of the barriers to house building is the ever rising affordable housing tax on house building. Labour wants to increase it. Market house building would become less profitable, so there would be less of it.

“Affordable housing would be redefined by reference to local incomes instead of local market prices. So the gap between the cost of provision and the return would get larger. If the cost of producing anything increases, at the margin people will produce less of it.

“The target is 1 million “genuinely” affordable homes over ten years. That is 100,000 “genuinely” affordable homes a year. That is more than half of all current annual house building.

“That 1 million target is split: 100,000 “genuinely” affordable homes in the first five years; so 180,000 a year for the next five years. That would be more than annual house building production.

“After Labour’s last 13 years in power from 1997 to 2010, their out-going Chief Secretary to the Treasury famously left a note for his successor: “Sorry, there’s no money”. There is still no magic money tree, and no indication here how these homes are to be funded.

“It is difficult to see any private sector rush into house-building to meet these numbers when all that is promised is higher affordable housing costs and an increasing range or arbitrary regulations.

“Already (even before this Green Paper) we are seeing land owners asking for “Corbyn Clauses” to be built into promotion agreements with developers, asking for the right not to proceed if the public levy on the development achieved makes the return on the land required unacceptable. Better to hold it for the next generation.

“Even without achieving office, Labour’s policies have the potential to reduce the supply of land for housing.

“Our restrictive planning system in its present form is indefensible. But it takes a rare talent to think deeply, and then come up with a package of proposals that will make it still worse.”