The Labour Party announced its General Election 2019 manifesto on Thursday as Jeremy Corbyn sought to captivate the electorate with some significant homebuilding measures and plans to drive energy efficiency of new and existing homes. 

Twenty-four hours prior, the Liberal Democrats released its own manifesto, which too boasted a plenitude of encouraging plans such as making new homes adhere to zero carbon standards and improve sustainability across all UK homes. 

While reviews the Conservative’s manifesto released over the weekend, we’ve analysed the two major opposition manifestos and assessed the pertinent details for self builders, renovators and homeowners across the UK. 

New Homes

The standout housing announcement from the Labour manifesto was the ambitious £75bn pledge to build 150,000 affordable homes a year, with 100,000 of these to be built by councils for social rent. 

The Liberal Democrats also pledged to build 100,000 homes for social rent, but added their intentions to ensure that total homebuilding increases to 300,000 each year. 

Under former prime minister and Conservative leader Theresa May, the government had set a target to build 300,000 homes a year, but it was reported earlier this year that the number of new build homes under construction in the UK had fallen to the slowest quarterly rate for three years.

The Carbon Missions

Both Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to introduce a new zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes and reduce energy consumption in existing homes. Both parties have also vowed to tackle fuel poverty. 

Labour will “upgrade millions of existing homes to make them more energy efficient’, while the Lib Dems will “cut fuel bills through a 10-year programme to reduce energy consumption from all the UK’s buildings”.

To make homes more energy efficient, Labour will roll out heat decarbonisation technologies by reducing the cost of heat pumps and solar hot water for homeowners and invest in low-carbon hydrogen production. 

These initiatives, Labour claims, will reduce the average household energy bill by £417 per household per year by 2030. 

By launching a Green Industrial Revolution, Labour also vows to shift to renewable energy to help reduce fuel poverty and our reliance on fossil fuels.

(MORE: What is an eco home?)

The Lib Dems have taken their green ambitions even further. They will invest over £6bn a year on home insulation and zero-carbon heating by the fifth year of parliament, which they say will end fuel poverty by 2025, reduce emissions and cut energy bills. 

The party will also:

  • Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard by 2021, rising to Passivhaus standard by 2025
  • Reform the Renewable Heat Incentive, requiring heat pumps to be installed in homes, and pilot projects to assess the best future mix of zero-carbon heating solutions
  • Reduce VAT on home insulation
  • Deliver housing energy efficiency improvements street by street

(MORE: What is Passivhaus?)

Affordable Housing

The delivery of affordable housing has stagnated over the past decade, and both parties have pledged to combat this escalating problem.

Labour’s bid to woo first-time buyers was evidenced with its pledge to build more low-cost homes for those new to the housing market, and reform Help to Buy to focus on those struggling to buy their first house. 

The Lib Dems will help finance a significant increase in the building of social homes using investment from its £130bn capital infrastructure budget. 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson is focusing heavily on renters, rather than buyers, in her manifesto, establishing new legislation to make it easier to rent homes.  The Rent to Own model will give tenants an increasing stake in their property, while the Help to Rent scheme will provide tenancy deposit loans for first-time renters under 30. 

Improved Broadband Access

Labour scooped headlines with its pre-manifesto launch announcement to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030, and this will likely be well received by the two-thirds of British homeowners who’d opt for access to fast broadband over living close to good nurseries and schools.

Commenting on the pledge, Claire Lloyd, editor of Homebuilding & Renovating, said: “Delivering full-fibre broadband to all households by 2030 seems a bridge too far. Improving access to, and the reliability and affordability of, high-speed wireless solutions – such as 4G and 5G, and radio signal – to rural homes, would perhaps be a more cost-effective means of delivering this pledge.”

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, will ensure that all households and businesses have access to superfast broadband (30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload), and invest £2 billion to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the UK.

What Else?

Labour have pursued landbank developers in their manifesto, who will face “use it or lose it” taxes on stalled housing developments. This will make it easier for self builders to find land on which to build and prevent developers sitting on land not being used. 

Labour will additionally set up a new English Sovereign Land Trust with powers to buy land at a lower cost. Rather than selling off land to the highest bidder, Labour will use public land to build the housing.

Mr Corbyn has also pledged to create a new Department for Housing and set out a strategy to augment the construction sector with more skilled workers. 

While Labour will end the Right to Buy scheme, which it says “will stop the haemorrhage of low-cost homes”, the Lib Dems will devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils.

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