Labour party outlines commitments to housebuilding and devolution

Out-Law News | 15 Dec 2014 | 4:55 pm | 1 min. read

The UK Labour party has published a summary of policies it says will appear in its manifesto for the 2015 general election, including several policies aimed at boosting the nation's housing supply and devolving powers to the UK's nations, regions and cities.

In a document entitled Changing Britain Together (52-page / 995 KB PDF), Labour outlined its key policies and called for voters to provide views on the proposals, which it said would be added to in its final manifesto.

The policies included several pledges previously announced by Labour in October following the publication of a report from the Lyons' Housing Commission. Among them were promises to build 200,000 homes per year by 2020, to introduce 'use it or lose it' measures to ensure land with planning permission was developed in good time, and to give local authorities the power to give first-time buyers priority on new homes in certain areas.

The document said a Labour government would allow councils to recycle savings made in the Housing Benefit bill into building new homes and would "build more affordable homes by prioritising capital investment in housing". It said Labour would give local communities "new powers to get homes built where they want them" and allow councils "greater powers to reduce the number of empty homes". It also said that a Labour government would legislate to give private renters rights to longer term tenancies with "predictable rents".

Labour repeated its recent commitment to the devolution of powers "not just to Scotland and Wales but to our great English cities and counties too". It said that a Labour government would pass an English Devolution Act, "handing £30 billion of resources, and powers over skills, transport and economic development to city and county regions".

The document also reiterated the Labour party's intention to establish an independent infrastructure commission "to plan and secure the infrastructure that Britain needs". The establishment of a commission for long-term infrastructure planning, free from the political process, was a key recommendation of Sir John Armitt's 2013 infrastructure review. The proposal was welcomed last month by 89% of respondents to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry.