What do the manifestos say on CLTs and community led housing and what does it mean for us all

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Here’s our Co-Chief Executive, Catherine Harrington’s take on it all.

We’re running a campaign for the next Government to put community housing at the heart of building Britain's homes. Many of you have already writen to your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) who could become your next MP, asking them to back community led housing and our manifesto - thank you!

So what are the main parties saying so far on CLTs, community led housing (CLH) and housing in general and what could it mean for the movement?  See our take on it below. (Please note that this is not in order of importance...!)

As you’ll see, we’ve already been successful in getting manifesto commitments to CLTs and community led housing, which is excellent news and a real campaign win. But there are also measures in the manifestos that could undermine CLTs. That is all the more reason to be lobbying your PPCs so we can build a strong support base amongst MPs once Parliament is back up and running. Your MPs’ support has been central to our historic successes in securing the Community Housing Fund and crucial exemptions from damaging policies like enforced rent cuts, the Right to Buy and leasehold reform. Let’s get lobbying!

Conservative Party Manifesto 

  1. There is a specific commitment to ‘Community Housing and Self Build’ and, more specifically, to supporting ‘communities living on council estates who want to take ownership of the land and buildings they live in’ (page 31). It is excellent to have this commitment to CLH in the manifesto. If the Conservatives form the next Government, we will work with them on the implementation of this commitment and use it to also push our manifesto asks of 1) a Community Right to Buy; 2) a renewed Community Housing Fund and 3) protecting the affordability of CLT homes. 

  2. More broadly, the Conservatives are committed to a target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, of all tenures, although there is an emphasis on supporting home ownership. As part of that they commit to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme but do not state the level of investment to be made in the programme.

  3. There is a pledge to ‘offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process to discount homes in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise afford to buy in their area’. In effect this is permanently discounted market sale homes that many CLTs do or are known for e.g. London CLT. This measure could therefore be very helpful in growing the mortgage market to lend on discounted market sale. Interestingly, The Times interpreted this and a Labour version of the policy that all homes developed in this way would managed by a CLT or housing association, so watch this space. 

  4. They will ‘maintain’ the Voluntary Right to Buy and consider new areas to roll the pilot scheme out. This could be damaging for CLTs so we’ll need to step up our call for a ‘statement on record’ that CLTs are not part of the VRtB.

  5. They are still committed to simplifying shared ownership. This may mean lifting the staircasing limits in rural protected areas, which would be damaging for CLTs. See our response to the Government’s consultation on this here.

  6. There’s an emphasis on building beautiful, high quality homes, and they want the community to decide on their own design standards for development. CLTs already do this of course. 

  7. They also commit to establishing a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are fund threat (e.g. pubs, post offices etc). This would be helpful to CLTs taking on other assets.

Labour Party Manifesto 

  1. There is no mention of CLTs or CLH and no specific pledge on the future of the Community Housing Fund, although it was a pledge in their Housing Green Paper in July 2018.

  2. They want a new social housebuilding programme of a million homes over a decade, with council housing at its heart - they want to see 150,000 council and social homes a year, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent. This will be helpful where councils work with partnership with CLH groups or where CLH can be seen to complement council housebuilding.

  3. They want to get rid of ‘affordable rent’ being 80% of market rent and link it to local incomes. The latter will be welcomed by CLH groups assuming they can bid for grant for this. 

  4. More specifically, they will offer discounted homes to first-time buyers who are employed as ‘key workers’, with the value of the discount linked to local salaries. This is similar to the Conservative policy mentioned above. As pointed out above, it is what many CLTs already do and, as The Times points out, these new homes could be held by CLTs as a way of ensuring permanent affordability.

  5. They will set up a new English Sovereign Land Trust with powers to buy land more cheaply for low cost housing. This could be helpful if it can then be sold to a CLT rather than being held nationally or by the local authority.

  6. They want to make land ownership transparent. This will help CLH groups identify sites they might buy, but most will still struggle to actually do so without a revolving loan fund for land purchase, as we set out in our manifesto.

  7. They will end the Right to Buy, which will be good news for CLTs, but will implement a strong leasehold band which would be damaging for CLTs if they don't exempt the sector, as the previous Government did. See our consultation on this here.

  8. Their strong commitment to zero carbon standard for new homes will help CLH groups achieve high standards without paying more than bog-standard builders.

  9. There is general support for the community or co-operative economy, including a Co-operative Development Agency to double the size of the co-operative sector. As part of that they will list pubs as Assets of Community Value so community groups have the first chance to buy local pubs when they are under threat.

  10. There is also a pledge to 'put the voices of local people at the heart of planning' and rebalance power in the planning system. This could give cause to back CLH groups that give local people not just a voice, but power and control.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto 

  1. There is no mention of CLH and no specific pledge on the future of the Community Housing Fund.

  2. More broadly, there is a commitment to build 300,000 homes a year, of which at least 100,000 will be social rent. Grant for the social rented homes will be welcomed by CLH groups if they can bid for it.

  3. They will introduce a new ‘rent to own’ model for social housing where rent payments give tenants a greater stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years. This may be of interest to CLTs if the homes can be kept permanently affordable.

  4. They will devolve full control of the Right to Buy to local councils. It isn’t clear if that includes the Voluntary Right to Buy.

  5. They pledge to reduce VAT on insulation and the strong 'zero carbon homes' standard will help CLH groups achieve good standards without having to pay more than bog standard builders.

  6. There is support for co-operatives, mutuals and community enterprises generally in the economy section. There is also support for community energy and community groups promoting cohesion, all of which are useful hooks for CLH.

Green Party

  1. They have adopted two of our Manifesto asks - they pledge to ‘Give communities the first chance to buy local land that comes up for sale by extending Scotland’s Community Right to Buy policy to England and Wales. Communities will then be able to directly deliver new affordable homes on purchased land, supported by the Community Housing Fund (which the Government plans to end in 2020, but we will maintain for at least another three years). This is an excellent commitment.

  2. More broadly, as part of their Green New Deal for Housing, they want to build 100,000 new energy efficient council homes a year, and bring empty homes back into use. 

You can read all the parties manifestos through the links below. Make sure to get involved in our campaign, and let's get the next government to back community led housing!

Conservative Party Manifesto

Labour Party Manifesto

Liberal Democrat Manifesto

Green Party Manifesto

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