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Labour to prepare for a general election in 2017

Week in Westminster

Published: 30 September 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has put his party on notice for a snap election. Closing the Labour party conference this week, Mr Corbyn said there was “every chance Mrs May would “cut and run…so I put our party on notice today. Labour is preparing for a general election in 2017.

Delivering his second keynote speech as Labour leader, Mr Corbyn  repeated some familiar pledges to nationalise the railways, significantly increasing house building, and curbing the “greed” of bankers. Key announcements included plans to remove the borrowing restrictions on local authorities, allowing them build an additional 12,000 houses a year; a review of tax and social security for the self-employed; and the creation of a National Investment Bank to fund £500 billion of infrastructure investment.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged to create a “New Europe” by preserving access to the Single Market for goods and services, while addressing the impact of freedom of movement on wages and local public services. He wants the UK to retain its stake in the EU Investment Bank and wishes to see access to EU markets retained for financial services. Mr McDonnell pledged to tackle tax avoidance, his commitment for an infrastructure investment fund and a network of regional development banks to support their local areas and businesses. He also pledged to legislate for a “real living wage” of over £10 an hour.

Criticising the government’s recent housing legislation, shadow housing minister Teresa Pearce set out what Labour’s Housing and Planning Act would look like:

  • Remove restrictions on local government so they can build homes of all tenures.
  • Commit to build over a million new homes over the next parliament, half of which would be social housing.
  • Provide the necessary infrastructure though Labour’s intended National Development Bank and regional banks.
  • Make three-year tenancies in the private rented sector the norm.
  • Set up not-for-profit lettings agencies.
  • Introduce a national standard for private rented properties.
  • Reverse the government’s ‘pay-to-stay’ policy, and suspend the right to buy.

Mr Corbyn is expected to announce his new shadow cabinet next week. Meanwhile, the Tory party conference starts on Sunday 2 October.      

In a letter to the governor of the Bank of England, the chancellor Philip Hammond confirms that the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme will close to new loans at the end of 2016 as planned. “There are now over 30 lenders offering 90-95% loans outside the scheme. Mr Hammond said: “This reflects the fact that the scheme was introduced with a specific purpose that has now been successfully achieved…”.

The DCLG has published its latest quarterly statistics on the number of home purchases and value of equity loans under the government package of Help to Buy schemes..

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced its decision to reclassify registered social landlords (RSLs) as public bodies in the national accounts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This follows the same decision made last year in respect of RSLs in England. The Scottish government were quick to reassure RSLs by reiterating its commitment to bring forward the necessary regulatory changes, which would enable the ONS to return the sector to a private classification.

And London mayor Sadiq Khan announced he will be establishing a “comprehensive” inquiry into the impact of foreign investment in London’s housing market.