Building Housing and Supporting Tenants
Labour Party Manifesto 2020

The Labour Party will give local councils the resources they need to end the homelessness crisis.

Labour has developed a new model of public housing that is open to everyone, based on what people can afford to pay, in order to solve the problem of housing costs. In addition to the scandal of homelessness, lack of access to decent, affordable housing is a slow moving crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of people unable to move ahead with their lives. House prices and private rents have increased at a much faster rate than people’s take home pay. Many young people are living in the family home or else they are renting for more than they can really afford. In previous generations, they would have bought their own homes.

Labour’s solution is the same as what Labour parties have delivered throughout European cities for decades: good quality housing, built by local councils, and rented out at a fair, affordable rent to people from a wide range of backgrounds. More than two-thirds of people living in Vienna rent publicly-provided housing (“cost-rental housing”) and this is a normal housing option right across Europe. The great State-led house-building programmes of the 1940s, 1950s and 1970s owe a lot to the role of Labour, and this can be done again to deliver affordable public housing in our towns and cities.

Labour has a proud record of ensuring planning decisions that benefit the whole community, not narrow commercial interests. Labour Councillors were to the forefront of exposing corruption and campaigning against land speculation and developer-led planning. Labour will fight for good quality planning and development, and to restore planning powers to local government.

Labour representatives in both local and national Government will continue to campaign for proper investment in housing. If the Government followed Labour’s plan for housing, there would be an investment of €16 billion, over five years. This would deliver 80,000 homes under a new model of public housing open to all

  • Labour Party Councillors will push for a mixture of traditional council housing and affordable public housing under the cost-rental model to a wide range of people on different incomes, operating under new rules, with opportunities for affordable home ownership
  • More one- and two-bedroom units of public housing need to be made available
  • We will introduce binding social housing building targets for councils to respond to local housing needs, and to reduce inefficient spending on Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenancies
  • There needs to be more homes available to those who have additional needs. All new public homes provided by local councils should be built according to universal design principles and accessible by people who use mobility aids. Older buildings need to be brought into compliance with accessibility standards
  • Higher-rise apartment developments need to have high minimum standards of build quality, services and maintenance. Local councils should have the responsibility to enforce these standards
  • The turnaround time to bring back vacant housing and voids needs to be improved in many local councils. Labour councillors will ensure that funds are allocated to help shorten turnaround times

We recognise that a higher percentage of social housing allocations need to urgently go to people with high needs, including people who are homeless, people with health problems and families with children

  • Many people with disabilities and additional needs are currently living in inappropriate accommodation. Labour will provide supports for people with disabilities moving out of congregated institutional settings

It’s time for local councils to launch an ambitious programme of retrofitting for council homes and buildings

Labour Councillors will work with local councils to ensure repairs to council homes are carried out within three months

There needs to be stronger democracy for tenants and owner-occupiers of apartment buildings and housing estates, to give them control over management companies and a greater say in the management of common areas

Stronger regulation of the private rented sector is needed in order to give more rights and protection to the thousands of people who rent

  • Labour believes in rent control. Stronger rent control legislation is needed
  • For many older tenants, security of tenure can be a cause of great anxiety. Labour wants to increase the certainty of tenure for older people in private rented housing
  • Labour wants to support those single-property landlords who comply with the laws that are in place. We will provide incentives to landlords who provide long-term tenancies and fair rent

The decision by Fine Gael to alter the planning powers of local councils was shameful. The Labour Party wants to see planning powers back where they belong, in local government. Labour councillors have always and will continue to fight for good planning decisions that benefit the whole community, not the narrow commercial interests of the few

  • Labour Councillors will properly engage with local communities when development plans are being drawn up
  • Large-scale housing developments should not be granted planning permission without proper services around them, that is why Labour representatives will insist on the provision for schools, public transport, health care, community facilities and other services
  • Commercial developments must have public transport provision before they are granted planning permission
  • Labour Councillors will fight for the preservation of sufficient green space and public parks in urban areas, and advocate for the preservation of green belts between existing urban areas

Local councils need to have stronger compulsory purchase powers for the development of housing. Councils should be empowered to impose large fines on those who leave buildings and land vacant for unacceptable periods of time

  • The Labour Party supports legislation for the compulsory purchase of lands at existing use value, building on the 1973 Kenny Report proposals
  • Vibrant main streets should be the centre of all activity in towns and villages. Labour will promote schemes to enable the temporary use of empty shops by artists and community groups
  • Funds are needed from central Government to offset the additional cost of development of housing in brownfield urban sites as opposed to greenfield sites
  • We’ll extend the rules on preventing dereliction to include occupied buildings as well as derelict ones
  • When it comes to solving the housing crisis, we should innovate. Labour will explore options for new forms of home building, especially where this provides additional homes in areas with few remaining sites

Labour will lead a national conversation about how we can plan for old age in a way that maximises people’s independence in sheltered housing and ensures their access to local shops and services

  • A growing percentage of public housing needs to be dedicated to older people
  • We will design housing and neighbourhoods to support the growing number of people likely to be affected by dementia in future
  • Labour will seek the expansion of “empty nester” schemes to assist older people to sell their homes to the council, in exchange for housing that is easier for them to manage