keir starmer labour manifesto

Labour manifesto: Housebuilding targets to be reinstated

Updating national planning policy, improving transport in the north and bringing back housebuilding targets all featured in today’s Labour manifesto.

The highly anticipated Labour manifesto was officially released today by party leader Keir Starmer, two days after Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government published theirs ahead of the general election on 4th July.

Labour’s “plan for change” includes a number of tax hikes – across areas such as private schools, overseas property investors and non-doms – in order to raise an additional £8.6 million for the country’s economy. Keir Starmer has put “wealth creation” at the heart of the Labour manifesto, in a bid to encourage economic growth.

The manifesto also promises to keep corporation tax at 25%, while also devolving powers over transport, skills, housing and planning to local mayors. The aim of this is to empower local areas to deal with these issues away from Westminster, meaning more decision-making on the ground.

The Labour manifesto and property

There was also a pledge to reinstate the country’s housebuilding targets in the Labour manifesto, with a promise to build 1.5 million new homes across the country by the end of its five-year term in government.

The Tories watered down their housebuilding targets in December 2022, changing the 300,000 new homes a year goal to an “advisory” rather than a fully fledged pledge by the party. This came after criticism that the UK had yet to hit the target in any of the years since it was first introduced.

In order to hit its target, Labour has also promised to reform the planning system to make it easier to get permission to build, with immediate effect. Part of this will include funding additional planning officers, which Labour says will be paid for by increasing stamp duty for non-UK residents.

At the moment, property investors from overseas must pay the standard rate of stamp duty based on the price bracket the property falls into, as well as a 2% surcharge.

The manifesto states: “We will ensure local communities continue to shape housebuilding in their area, but where necessary Labour will not be afraid to make full use of intervention powers to build the houses we need.”

Choosing where to build

The Labour manifesto states that it will take “a brownfield first approach, prioritising the development of previously used land wherever possible, and fast-tracking approval of urban brownfield sites”.

However, it adds: “But brownfield development alone will not be enough to meet our housing need.

“Labour is committed to preserving the green belt which has served England’s towns and cities well over many decades. Under the Conservatives, greenbelt land is regularly released for development but haphazardly and often for speculative housebuilding.

“Without changing its purpose or general extent, Labour will take a more strategic approach to greenbelt land designation and release to build more homes in the right places. The release of lower quality ‘grey belt’ land will be prioritised and we will introduce ‘golden rules’ to ensure development benefits communities and nature.”

The importance of infrastructure

Of course, with the addition of new homes comes the need for improved and extended infrastructure to support this, which is also addressed in the Labour manifesto.

It states: “The current planning regime acts as a major brake on economic growth. Labour will make the changes we need to forge ahead with new roads, railways, reservoirs, and other nationally significant infrastructure.

“We will set out new national policy statements, make major projects faster and cheaper by slashing red tape, and build support for developments by ensuring communities directly benefit.

“We will also update national planning policy to ensure the planning system meets the needs of a modern economy, making it easier to build laboratories, digital infrastructure, and gigafactories. Labour will ensure economic regulation supports growth and investment, promotes competition, works for consumers, and enables innovation.”

Read the full Labour manifesto here.

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