The Labour Party has published a last-minute housing manifesto that includes tougher pledges to enforce the removal of dangerous cladding – including support for Inside Housing’s End Our Cladding Scandal campaign.
The 20-page manifesto updates Labour’s previous position on fire safety with pledges to:
The latter two pledges are direct adoptions of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign set up by Inside Housing in partnership with the UK Cladding Action Group and Manchester Cladiators – groups which represent residents of affected blocks. The campaign is supported by Grenfell United, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the National Housing Federation and the Fire Brigades Union.
The manifesto also includes the pre-existing Labour Party pledges on fire safety, including plans to set up a £1bn fund for sprinklers in social housing.
The manifesto said: “The fire at Grenfell Tower exposed a broken system of fire safety checks and controls. It should have marked a turning point for fire safety in this country.
“However, the Conservatives have been off the pace on every front in response to Grenfell: too slow to provide support and rehouse residents who lost their homes that night, too slow to ban flammable materials from going on new buildings, too slow in testing other at-risk buildings, and too slow in getting deadly cladding removed and replaced where it has been found.
“It would be unthinkable to Conservative ministers for their own homes to be left wrapped in dangerous, Grenfell-style cladding for years after it was found to be unsafe, but that is the situation for thousands of high-rise residents across the country, two-and-a-half years after the Grenfell Tower fire.”
Government statistics show that 318 of 436 buildings with Grenfell-style cladding have yet to complete remediation work.
An unknown number of other high and medium-rise buildings have dangerous cladding of other kinds – a figure which could well run into the tens of thousands.
The Conservative manifesto promises unspecified “support” for residents with the removal of dangerous cladding and a continuation of the testing process.
The new housing manifesto repeats many of Labour’s housing commitments from earlier in the campaign, which headline on a £75bn funding programme to build 150,000 affordable homes a year by the end of a five-year term.
It includes a new commitment to offer loan funding to allow councils to buy back “at least” 5,000 council homes a year which had previously been sold under the Right to Buy.
There are also promises to scrap the bedroom tax and set up a ‘Decent Homes 2’ programme “with an emphasis on fire safety”.
Legislation is promised for the first year of a Labour government that would create open-ended tenancies in the private rented sector and impose a system of rent control.
The party also pledged new homes for first-time buyers discounted by “up to half” of the market price – which it said would be delivered through the planning system.
There were also promises to end the leasehold “scandal” and reform the land system to ensure more land is available for housing development.
The party said it would set up a new ‘department for housing’ on day one of taking office and open new emergency cold weather shelters for rough sleepers.
It promised a rough sleeping taskforce within the first 100 days, as well as the emergency legislation to address the cladding crisis.
“Labour’s programme on housing is the most ambitious in modern times, matching the scale of the housing crisis so many people face,” said shadow housing secretary John Healey.
“This manifesto sets out our plan to deliver it.”