Starmer announces ‘Freedom to Buy’ policy as key housing manifesto pledge

Labour has announced more details of its proposed mortgage guarantee scheme, which it said will help 80,000 people on to the housing ladder.

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The party said it will make the Conservative government’s existing guarantee scheme, which is set to expire next June, permanent.

Labour said the scheme, which it is badging ‘Freedom to Buy’, will be more “extensive” than the existing version as lenders will have an incentive to integrate ‘insured mortgages’ into their offer to customers as they know the scheme is permanent.

It also argues prospective buyers currently struggle to find information about the scheme and might save for months and years only to find the scheme is no longer in existence.

The scheme would provide a guarantee for part of homebuyers’ mortgages meaning they don’t need as big of a deposit when buying a new home. The existing scheme applies to residential mortgages on properties worth £600,000 or less with a loan-to-value of between 91% and 95%.

Starmer said: “After 14 years of Conservative government, the dream of home ownership is out of reach for too many hard working people. Despite doing everything right, they can’t move on and up. A generation face becoming renters for life.

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“My parents’ home gave them security and was a foundation for our family. As Prime Minister, I will turn the dream of owning a home into a reality.”

 At-a-glance: Labour housing policies announced so far

  • Planning reform to build 1.5 million homes: reintroduce housing targets, build on disused grey belt land, fast track permissions on brownfield and build the next generation of new towns.
  • A Freedom to Buy Scheme: a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme to help working people get a mortgage and buy a home.
  • First dibs: work with developers to give local people ‘first dibs’ on new developments
  • Tax foreign buyers to fund planning officers: tax foreign buyers in order to fund new planning officers
  • Reform compulsory purchase rules: ”to stop speculators frustrating housebuilding and squeezing value from infrastructure and affordable housing”.

The party has also pledged to reform planning, alter compulsory purchase rules, incentivise building on low quality ‘grey-belt land’, build new towns and fast track permissions on brownfield sites. It has also said it will introduce a ‘first dibs’ policy under which local people get the first option to buy homes in new developments.


 Election focus 

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As thoughts turn towards the next general election, the UK is facing some serious problems.

Low growth, flatlining productivity, question marks over net zero funding and capability, skills shortages and a worsening housing crisis all amount to a daunting in-tray for the next government.

This year’s general election therefore has very high stakes for the built environment and the economy as a whole. For this reason,

Building’s election coverage aims to help the industry understand the issues and amplify construction’s voice so that the parties hears it loud and clear.