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Out-Law Analysis 7 min. read

UK general election 2024: policies impacting the real estate sector

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For the real estate sector there is much in the upcoming UK general election manifestos for businesses to digest and policies which organisations may wish to influence when they are introduced to parliament.

However, there are many areas on which clarity is still required.


The UK is currently experiencing a housing crisis, with plans to build more homes on the agenda for all three main parties. Affordable housing is also an issue addressed in the manifestos.

The Conservatives have pledged to deliver 1.6 million homes in England in the next parliament, with Labour also planning to build 1.5 million new homes.

Read more of our analysis of the parties' 2024 manifesto pledges

If re-elected, the Conservatives would abolish the legacy EU ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules to unlock the building of 100,000 additional new homes. They would also make permanent the increase to the threshold at which first-time buyers pay stamp duty to £425,000 from £300,000 as well as launching a new help to buy scheme. Rishi Sunak’s party would also renew the affordable homes programme and complete the process of leasehold reform by capping ground rents at £250.

The Conservatives have set out plans to encourage local authorities to use the new infrastructure levy to deliver the GP surgeries, roads, and other local infrastructure needed to support homes. They would also continue developer-funded remediation programmes for mid-and-high-rise buildings, while simplifying planning processes to enable people to build or commission their own home and encourage the development of housing for older people.

The Renters Reform Bill, which includes provisions to abolish section 21 and measures to enable landlords to evict tenants guilty of anti-social behaviour, would be passed by the Conservatives if they win.

Labour have focussed on  affordable housing too by making changes to the affordable homes programme to ensure that it delivers more homes from existing funding. Labour’s plans also include strengthening planning obligations to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes and prioritise the building of new social rented homes.

They would also enable the package of Law Commission proposals on leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage and commonhold, ban new leasehold flats, ensure commonhold is the default tenure and tackle ground rent charges. ‘No fault’ evictions would also be abolished.

Keir Starmer’s party have pledged to work closely with the private sector to provide further private finance to accelerate home upgrades and low carbon heating. They would also accelerate the pace of cladding remediation.

The Liberal Democrats would provide local authorities with new powers to control and limit the number of second homes and short-term lets in their area. They would also introduce a new rent to own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property.

The party have promised to ensure that all development has appropriate infrastructure, services and amenities in place and to expand neighbourhood planning. They would also integrate infrastructure and public service delivery into the planning process, properly finding local planning departments to improve planning outcomes.

The Liberal Democrats would both facilitate and encourage the use of rural exception sites to expand rural housing.


The three biggest UK parties all focus on improvements to planning processes. For instance, the Conservatives have promised to focus on the role of statutory consultees in the planning system on improving projects through clearer objectives as well as amending the law to prevent judicial reviews frustrating infrastructure delivery. The Conservatives would also rule out Labour’s proposal of community right to appeal and work on the commitment to protect the green belt from uncontrolled development.

The Labour Party, if elected, have committed to immediately updating the national policy planning framework, including restoring mandatory household targets.

Labour would also ensure that planning authorities have up-to-date local plans and reform and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development. The party would fund additional planning officers by increasing the rate of the stamp duty surcharge paid by non-UK residents as well as further reforming compulsory purchase compensation rules.

Climate Change

With climate protection at the heart of many manifesto policies, the Conservative party have pledged to fund an energy efficiency voucher scheme for households to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and solar panels. They would also implement a new import carbon pricing mechanism by 2027, reforming the climate change committee to give it an explicit mandate to consider costs to households and UK energy security in its future climate advice.

The Conservatives have also guaranteed a vote in the next parliament on the next state of the net zero pathway, including an overall commitment to deliver net zero by 2050.

On the other hand, Labour have set out plans to invest an additional £6.6 billion over the next parliament to make homes more energy efficient. Keir Starmer’s party would ensure homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030.

The Lib Dems have pledged to introduce a ten-year emergency upgrade programme which would include free insulation and heat pumps for those on low incomes. They would also ensure that all new homes are zero-carbon and expand incentives for households to install solar panels, including a guaranteed fair price for electricity sold back to the grid.

Landlords would be required to upgrade energy efficiency of their properties to EPCC or above, with the Lib Dems also setting out plans to implement the carbon border adjustment mechanism for high-emission products.

Tax and other headline commitments


General business


Labour said they would introduce a new UK industrial strategy and re-establish an Industrial Strategy Council – the latter being a pledge also made by the Liberal Democrats, which said they would put the body on a statutory footing. Labour has also pledged to publish a roadmap for business taxation for the next parliament.

The Conservatives said they would promote digital invoicing and improve enforcement of the Prompt Payment Code.

Corporation tax


Labour have pledged to cap corporation tax at the current level of 25%. The Conservatives have said they would not increase corporation tax either. The Liberal Democrats have said that they would make the case for increasing the global minimum rate of corporation tax to 21%.



Labour have pledged no increase to VAT. The Conservatives said they would keep the VAT threshold under review. The Liberal Democrats said they would cut the VAT rate applicable to public charging of electric vehicles to 5%.

Income tax and National Insurance

Labour have said that they would not impose increases to National Insurance or the basic, higher or additional rates of income tax. The Conservatives have pledged to abolish the main rate of National Insurance entirely by the end of the next parliament. The Liberal Democrats said they would raise the tax-free personal allowance, which applies before income tax is levied, when public finances allow.

Business rates

Labour have said it will replace the business rates system. It has also pledged to end the VAT exemption and business rates relief for private schools.

The Conservatives have promised to enable councils to retain all business rates growth within a defined zone for 25 years. They have also pledged to increase the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time.

The Liberal Democrats have said they would abolish business rates and replace them with a commercial landowner levy.

Tax reliefs


Labour have promised to retain a permanent full expensing system for capital investment and the annual investment allowance for small business.

The Conservatives have said they would lift the employee threshold, allowing more companies to be considered medium-sized and benefit from associated tax reliefs. In line with an announcement set out by chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his March Budget, the Conservatives have also committed to extending the ‘full expensing’ policy to leased assets.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to expand rural fuel duty relief.

Other tax pledges

Labour have said that they would abolish the non-domiciled tax status, if elected to government.

The Conservatives have said they would not impose any increase to the rate of capital gains tax.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reform capital gains tax, increase the UK’s digital services tax rate from 2% to 6%, and restore the bank surcharge and bank levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms.

Employment, skills and immigration

Labour have pledged to establish a youth guarantee, where all 18- to 21-year-olds would be given access to training, an apprenticeship, or support to find work,

Labour said it would also implement what it terms a new deal for working people, in full. This, they said, would include banning zero hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and ensuring workers have basic rights to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal, from ‘day one’ in a job.

Labour have also said it will establish a flexible growth and skills levy, change the remit of the independent Low Pay Commission, and reform the points-based immigration system.

The Conservatives have pledged to create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England every year by the end of the next parliament.

They have also committed to maintain the national living wage in each year of the next parliament at two-thirds of median earning.

The Liberal Democrats have said that they would establish a new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority. They also said they would fix the work visa system and exempt NHS and care staff from the immigration skills charge.

Their other plans include to improve the quality of vocational education, including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment; replace the apprenticeship levy with a broader skills and training levy; and create new lifelong skills grants for adults to spend on education and training throughout their lives.

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