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Labour Conference Review


By Martin Curtis 

With a healthy lead in the polls, last week saw a buoyant Labour Party convene in Liverpool for their first conference in the city for four years, as Keir Starmer, eyes a route back to Number 10 for Labour unexpectedly, ahead of schedule. Trying to position Labour as the true party of the centre ground, and himself as the heir to Blair, Starmer outlined Labour’s plan for Britain. So, what would Planning and Local Government look like under a Starmer-led government?

It is no surprise that there was quite a lot of mention of planning and development at the conference, and it was a buoyed conference where the party was able to be positive about its ambitions and with some of it hinting at a bigger role for the state in the housing and development agenda. The agenda also came across as relatively joined up, with the themes of devolution, first-time buyers and housing conditions repeated throughout.

The proposal to increase homeownership from 65% to 70% is an example; one way Labour want to achieve this is to give first-time buyers priority on new housing – something that will require some sort of state legislation which Starmer partially covered in his speech, talking about getting 1.5m more people on the housing ladder by creating a new mortgage scheme for first-time buyers. This will no doubt be welcomed by the younger generations who are currently struggling to save enough for a deposit.

One of Nandy’s key promises was to restore social housing as the second highest tenure under a Labour government. This would mean Labour would have to stand up to the task of overseeing the construction of an additional 400,000 social homes to make up this deficit. It comes as no surprise that Nandy’s first priority is to tackle the housing crisis.

Commitments to improving the housing stock were also present – and this is something that sets Labour apart from the Conservatives – with pledges to rebuild the social housing stock, create a new renters charter and write a new decent homes standard into law. To complement this, Starmer also announced plans for a green homes revolution that would insulate 19 million homes.

There was also some emphasis on devolution, there were announcements about further powers for metro mayors and local government, including giving greater control over council-owned assets. Whilst there was little detail at the conference, devolution may yet prove to be the most radical of all of the proposals being brought forward under Lisa Nandy’s brief; leaked details have emerged of the early thoughts of Gordon Brown in a review commissioned by the Labour Party, these include giving additional tax raising powers to devolved governments in England and replacing the House of Lords with an upper house of Nations and Regions – which presumably also means creating a regional government. 

At this stage in the political cycle, it would be unlikely for there to be any significant meat on the proposals, but Labour supporters can, at last, say that the bones are there, and that gives them something significant to talk about in the local elections next May – elections where, as things stand, they should expect to make huge gains.

To find out about Cratus Planning, please contact Julian Seymour 

Labour Conference Review