Labour promises rapid housing action after ‘years of Tory paper promises’ | Housing

Labour will deliver more action on housing in the first six months of office than the Conservatives have delivered in the past six years, Angela Rayner has pledged.

Downing Street has confirmed the renters reform bill will be in the king’s speech, allowing it to continue its passage through parliament when the next session opens on Tuesday.

But Labour says housing sector changes promised by the government, including overhauling the leasehold system and abolishing section 21 “no-fault” evictions for tenants – a pledge that featured in the 2019 Tory manifesto – have been subsequently watered down.

Michael Gove, the housing secretary, wrote to Tory backbenchers last month to say the ban on “no-fault” evictions promised as part of the bill will not be enacted before a series of improvements are made in the legal system.

Ministers have confirmed that leasehold reforms will feature in the king’s speech, with the plans expected to include banning new leasehold houses so all new houses are freehold from the outset other than in exceptional circumstances.

The government separately intends to deliver a reformed commonhold system as an alternative to leasehold ownership for flats, Gove’s department has said. The plans are much-delayed and appear to have been watered down from what was once intended to be a root-and-branch overhaul of the leasehold system that Gove has previously labelled “feudal”.

Labour officials said the Tories first pledged to protect homeowners from “feudal” leasehold practices in December 2017. It calculated that the Conservatives had issued 115 press releases and fresh announcements about leasehold reforms since that date.

Rayner, the party’s deputy leader and also the shadow housing secretary, said: “Labour will deliver more action on housing in six months than this crumbling Conservative government has managed in six years.

“After years of paper promises on housing, this king’s speech is set to completely overlook housebuilding and backtrack on pledges made years ago.

“This is no time to wait. Labour’s plan would get Britain building again with a housing recovery plan, creating a generation of new towns and unlocking economic growth across Britain.

“We will not duck the difficult issues as the Tories have. We would abolish no-fault evictions and fix the broken leasehold system once and for all.”

In response, the housing minister, Rachel Maclean, said Labour peers in September helped defeat an attempt by ministers to scrap EU-era rules that force developers to mitigate the impact new homes have on river health. She said: “We will take no lessons from the hypocritical Labour party who only a few weeks ago voted to block 100,000 new homes.”

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Meanwhile, Labour is reportedly considering a “robot tax” for firms that replace staff with artificial intelligence to discourage companies from making employees redundant.

The idea was suggested by Alex Davies-Jones, the shadow minister for technology and digital economy, at a fringe event at last month’s Labour conference in Manchester.

A spokesperson for the party told the Daily Telegraph: “Ideas that are not Labour party policy are discussed at fringe events at the Labour party conference.

“The Labour party has no plan to tax business for using AI. Our policy is to harness the potential of AI to deliver better public services and get the economy growing.”

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