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What Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory may mean for housing policy in the UK


The New Labour leader is now Veteran Left Winger,Jeremy Corbyn MP,who won with a landslide victory.

Corbyn recently published his plans , to comprehensively address Britain's housing crisis as part of his Vision for Britain 2020. Jeremy believes a secure and affordable home is a basic right. His housing manifesto proposes a radical rebooting of home construction permitting councils to be house builders and providers in order to meet the demand for affordable housing in their own areas.






Giving to councils the right and the means to commission new homes is the most efficient way of achieving the minimum of 240,000 new homes our country now needs to build each year to meet demand and reverse the current housing crisis.


Short supply of affordable housing fuels high rents which, alongside unobtainable mortgage deposits, mean the dream of having a home of your own is now beyond the reach of too many people. And too many parents are now dealing with the fact that their grown children cannot afford to fly the nest.

"Under my ‘Vision for Britain 2020’ Labour will promote major council-funded, desirable energy efficient building projects to provide our young people with a good start in life, to stop paying exorbitant rents and the opportunity of a home they can at least call their own," said Jeremy Corbyn.

"It has become clear that when housing provision is left purely to market forces most of our young people simply cannot afford to get a foot on the rung of the market's so called housing ladder."


Jeremy Corbyn on housing benefit cap effects (18Dec13)

"It also makes economic sense, as today's housing document outlines."

“Housing has reached crisis point: families are shunted from council house to B&B to hostel, hundreds of miles away from support networks and denied stability or security; council homes are emptied, regenerated and sold at prices well out of the reach of normal people, causing the social cleansing of our cities."

Other points highlighted in the document:

The pernicous bedroom tax and the benefit cap must be scrapped. For every £1 spent on housing construction an extra £2.09 is generated in the economy.
Lower regulated rents and better housing conditions in the private sector.
Private rents linked to local average earnings levels.
Tenants should have the right to longer tenancies.
Licensing and regulation of private landlords to ensure decent housing conditions.
Four in five London employers say the lack of affordable housing is stalling economic growth in the capital.


Bernie Saunders US counterpart - Jeremy Corbyn


A first time buyer today requires ten times the deposit they did in the 1980s, according to the National Housing Federation. Fewer than 150,000 homes were built in every year of the coalition government, compared with 190,000 homes a year under New Labour, which was itself a low for a post-war government. Britain has the highest proportion of households of OECD countries receiving cash allowances to support rent, and we now spend around £10 billion on housing benefit for in-work households; and the eviction of tenants is at a record high. Official figures show that sleeping rough in England is up 55% since 2010 (and up 78% in London); while families in temporary accommodation are increasing too.



 Discussion on Corbyn smear campaign and similarities to Bernie Saunders


A PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR THAT’S FIT FOR PURPOSE

Alongside building the thousands of new homes we need, we also need to get rents
down in the private rented sector and ensure secure tenures. We could have national
minimum standards of longer tenancies and limits on rent rises – but in places where
the housing crisis is at its most acute, we need to go further.
We need to bring rents down to make sure they take up a lower proportion of people’s
income, and given that many people are likely to renting for longer and longer, we need
to make sure tenants have the right to a longer tenancy. A survey by Survation in
January this year showed fewer than 10% of British people are against mandatory legal
limits on housing rents.

Regulation of private rents should be linked to what determines whether something is
affordable. We should consider average earnings and in particular their rate of increase,
not the market rate for housing.

Berlin now has powers to limit how far landlords raise rents for all new contracts - and
early evidence suggests this is already bringing rents down in the city
Private landlords should be nationally registered and locally licensed, including a ‘fit
and proper’ persons’ test, making sure that tenants’ rights are respected and ensuring
that decent homes standards – such as minimum safety standards, and being damp
and pest free – are adhered to in the private rental sector.
Licensing and registration should be administered and enforced by the relevant local
authority. Some councils including London boroughs and Oxford City Council have
already done some positive work in this area with the powers currently available to
them, and it has been effective in moving against some of the worst offender landlords.

HOME OWNERSHIP

In the early 1990s, nearly two-thirds of Britons aged between 25 and 34 owned their
own home; it is now down to less than 45%. Home ownership levels have been falling
ever since Margaret Thatcher left office as a whole generation has been priced out.
By a range of measures, including building more housing overall, restricting subsidies
to buy to let landlords, and regulating rental value, we can bring down house prices
and make home ownership an affordable option for more people.
In many cases, one of the biggest pressures first-time buyers face is to save a
deposit, particularly in high-value areas where house prices are rising fast and people
are trapped having to pay fast-rising rents. We could help people caught in this trap,
with an approach that incorporates some of the principles applied in schemes like
rent-to-own or shared equity, where the government helps with a deposit and in the
latter case retains a share in the property.

RIGHT TO BUY

Right to Buy (RTB), introduced by the Conservatives in 1980, has already resulted in a
massive depletion of the social housing stock - over 1.7 million homes were sold off by
1992. In London over a third of leaseholders owning properties bought under
right-to-buy do not live in their properties but let them out for commercial rent –
often subsidised by housing benefit.
Since 2012, 29,505 more council homes have been sold off, with only 3,422 replaced.
Yet the current government proposes to extend right-to-buy discounts of £100,000 to
tenants in housing association properties.

The National Housing Federation rightly states that housing association tenants “are
people already living in good secure homes on some of the country’s cheapest rents
… To use public assets to gift over £100,000 to someone already living in a good
quality home is deeply unfair”. Extending right-to-buy in this way was also found to
be unpopular with a majority of respondents in a poll conducted in London earlier this
year.

Instead of extending the right to buy we should be reducing the harm it causes to our
affordable housing stock. Local authorities in areas of high housing stress should be
given the power to suspend right to buy in order protect depleting social housing
assets. There are many other steps we could take as well. It is essential we make sure
receipts from right-to-buy remain in a local area and that genuine replacements are
built – an aim the government has sorely missed. We could also reduce the discount.
We should also look at how to help private renters, since they are often paying much
higher rents with less security and a less responsive landlord than housing association
tenants. We could re-direct some of the £14 billion of tax reliefs received by private
landlords to help struggling private tenants; this would of course include building new
council homes and helping private tenants to overcome the deposit problem. We
could also investigate whether some of this money could be used to fund a form of
right-to-buy shared equity scheme to private tenants in cases when they are renting
from large-scale landlords.

FORCED SALE OF COUNCIL HOMES

Our housing crisis is set to get a lot worse as a result of the government’s plans to
force councils to sell ‘high-value’ council homes on the open market when they
become vacant. They want to do this, in part, to pay off housing associations who will
be forced to offer right-to-buy discounts to their tenants.
The damage of this policy is illustrated in London, where many inner London boroughs
could lose a third or more of their council homes as a result of this policy, which we
know are likely to go to investors and speculators. It will put yet more pressure on
privately-rented homes, particularly in parts of outer London, as people on lower
incomes desperately find somewhere even vaguely near family or work that they can
afford.
There is widespread agreement of councils from different political parties across the
capital that this will cause huge social upset - from Labour councillors in Islington to
Conservative councillors in Kensington. Businesses too are saying that the lack of
affordable housing threatens London’s future economic success - four in five London
employers say the lack of affordable housing is stalling economic growth in the capital. It is vital that communities and businesses in major cities like London oppose this
damaging and reckless policy.

‘AFFORDABLE’ RENTS

We need to be clear what we mean by ‘affordable’ – no longer should ‘affordable’
mean near-market levels under the doublespeak the government has promoted.
“Social rents in high-demand areas are typically a third to half the market rate, while
so-called ‘affordable’ rents are up to 80% of private rents.
The government’s new Pay to Stay policy, which from 2017 will force social tenant
households earning over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) to pay market rents, will deter
residents from seeking promotion at work, and encourage them to RTB. The extra
income from housing association tenants will be kept by the landlord, whilst the
income from council tenants will go to the Treasury.

Pay to Stay will have a devastating impact on people, particularly in London and
other inner city areas – forcing people from their homes just for earning over a certain
amount, or possibly giving people a perverse incentive not to earn more if they have
the option. It will undoubtedly come at the cost of building more homes for social rent
in the current climate.
And there is a problem with housing associations. Initially set up to provide decent
homes for people in need, many are developing into businesses that sell or rent at
market levels. We need more democracy and accountability, and a return to their
original purpose.
Instead of giving tenants in housing association property the right to buy, we should
look at giving tenants greater power over the decisions their landlords take - including for
instance through co-operative models of local management that can empower
tenants.

LANDBANKING & SPECULATIVE PLANNING APPLICATIONS

Even in areas of acute housing shortage there is land that has planning permission but
is not being developed. This is known as landbanking - a practice that Conservative
London Mayor Boris Johnson has described as “pernicious”.
We should consider introducing a Land Value Tax on undeveloped land that has
planning permission, and ‘use it or lose it’ measures on other brownfield sites, to act
as a disincentive to landbanking and to raise public funds for house-building. Councils
should also be allowed to compulsorily purchase (CPO) sites at a fair value if their
owners are not developing them.
According to the Local Government Association, there are 709,426 empty properties
in England. About one third of these, around 260,000, have been lying empty for six
months or more. With home ownership becoming increasingly unattainable for so
many, rents spiralling out of control and levels homelessness rapidly increasing,
working with local authorities more should be done to bring existing housing stock
back into use.

‘BUY-TO-LEAVE’ / OFF-PLAN SALES
London is home to people from all around the world – its diversity and global
attractiveness is one of its key strengths. This strength comes from people making it
the place they live and work in.
Too many new homes that are built for sale end up as buy-to-let investments, or even
worse as speculative assets that sit there empty for much of the year.
Many other cities around the world have taken steps to ensure homes go to people
who live and work in the city rather than to people who see the homes as assets for
financial peculation. Highly populated cities like Hong Kong and Singapore have taken
steps to discourage overseas buyers.

Whilst ending this would by no means solve our housing crisis, it would play a part of a
broader approach. Local authorities could be given the option of levying higher council
tax rates or a new tax on properties left empty. Additionally we could look at banning
the ownership of property by non-UK based entities or by companies and offshore
trusts altogether.

PUBLIC LAND USED FOR AFFORDABLE HOMES

Boris Johnson and George Osborne have set out to produce a ‘doomsday book’ of
public land in London that can be used for development, through a ‘London Land
Commission’ being run by Savills estates agency. This does not include
council-owned land but does include other public bodies e.g. NHS.
There is a danger that the government see these land disposals simply as a way to
raise as much money as possible, and with no provision for genuinely affordable
housing. This public land should be developed in many cases, but should be


transferred to councils to build council housing to meet local need.

RETROFITTING & RAISING ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS

Britain needs more energy efficient housing - both in current housing stock and new

build. It means ensuring all homes are properly insulated. The model for this should be
the Warm Zones approach of Kirklees council (between 2007-2010) which installed loft
and cavity wall insulation across the Borough, for free.
We also need new incentives - and obligations - to raise housing standards in the
worst parts of the private rented sector.
Over 3.5 million people in Britain live in fuel poverty. Excess winter deaths are 23%
higher than in Sweden, despite our milder winters. Retrofitting homes will reduce this
toll of ill-health, unnecessary deaths and avoidable carbon emissions.

There is no excuse for Britain setting lower standards of new housing than elsewhere
in Europe. Zero carbon homes should become the norm. France now requires even
commercial buildings to have roofs covered in either plants or solar panels. Germany
uses its equivalent of the Green Investment Bank to drive (and de-risk) high energy
efficiency standards. Denmark will not accept planning applications for new buildings
dependant on fossil fuels. The Netherlands requires buildings to be flood-resistant.
Britain needs to future-proof its housing standards.
Local authorities must also be given greater freedoms to drive this change, underpinned
by a shift in tax advantages/allowances in favour of energy efficient homes rather than

subsidies to poor and unoccupied properties.


Download in full Jeremy's  Corbyns housing policy document.


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