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Labour drops its much-derided private tenant ‘right to buy’ policy

After being announced two months ago by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, the party's policy makers realised it would be unworkable.

Nigel Lewis

labour manifesto

Labour has ditched its key private rented sector manifesto policy for the general election.

Andrew Fisher, its key manifesto architect, has decided that giving private tenants the ‘right to buy’ their rented properties would be unworkable, the FT has revealed.

The policy, which was announced back in September during a newspaper interview with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, will now no longer feature in the party’s manifesto, which is due to be published any day now.

Labour planned to set a below market value or ‘fair price’ for a property, he said during the interview.

“You’d want to establish what is a reasonable price, you can establish that and then that becomes the right to buy,” he said. “You (the government) set the criteria. I don’t think it’s complicated.”

But the policy did turn out to have complications; advisors have since pointed out that each ‘fair price’ was likely to be challenged in the courts by landlords  whose properties were in negative equity.

Radical policies

Labour’s manifesto is one of its most radical in living memory and has been designed to move the agenda away from the Brexit debate, where the party is hugely exposed by its backing for a second referendum.

Property industry policies that are expected to be in the manifesto include nationalising parts of the block management sector, the compulsory purchase of long-term empty private homes, replacing Stamp Duty and making landlords, not tenants, pay council tax.

The manifesto will also include the nationalisation of several industries including water companies, the railways, Royal Mail, National Grid and the broadband network.

Also, zero-hour working contracts are the be outlawed and free NHS dental check-ups and free travel for under-21-year-olds introduced. The policies would require an additional £400 billion of state borrowing.

 

 

November 18, 2019

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