Healthy Homes election special – what do the party manifestos say about housing and health?  

This blog provides a quick snapshot of what each party manifesto says about housing and health. We’ve used a simple scoring system look at what each party is saying.  

Looking at each of the party’s manifestos, we ask:  

  1. Is there a clear housing policy commitment?   
  1. Does the housing policy broadly address the quality of homes (and not just supply issues)?  
  1. Are there clear proposals to improve housing quality standards in new (and converted) homes and associated health outcomes? 
  1. How many of the 12 Healthy Homes Principles are clearly addressed?  

The table below provides an overview of our findings. Overall, there are some solid commitments across the main parties regarding key housing challenges – particularly in relation to targets on the supply of new homes, but also commitments to retrofit existing homes, as well as on improving renters’ rights and access to local amenities and green spaces.

Unfortunately, all parties fail to make a clear commitment to improve the standard of new homes. This will be vital to ensuring the delivery of better health outcomes from future housing development.  

Healthy Homes: 2024 manifestos compared

Part Manifestos HH Principles Ranking – 1

Looking across the 12 Healthy Homes Principles, no party addresses nine or more of the principles. The Lib Dem’s manifesto is the most comprehensive – with policy commitments relating to eight of the principles. This is followed by Labour, who have policies that relate to seven principles. The Conservatives and Greens both have policies which address six healthy homes principles.

All the manifestos have notable gaps:

  • None of the manifestos address the need for more homes to be inclusive, adaptable and accessible for disabled and elderly people.
  • There are also no references to addressing overcrowding and ensuring liveable space in new homes.
  • Several parties talk about addressing crime through increasing neighbourhood policing but do not look at how the design of homes and communities can be used to help increase security.
  • Other principles are also missed, such as ensuring access to natural light in homes, and limiting exposure to artificial light pollution and noise pollution. 

What does each manifesto say about Healthy Homes?

Below, we unpack each of the party manifesto pledges in turn, to look in more detail how they are addressing Healthy Homes.  

Conservative Party manifesto  

The Conservative manifesto commits to building 1.6 million homes over the next five years, including through increased density and building on urban brownfield land and new regeneration schemes in Leeds, Liverpool and York. The party place a strong emphasis on home ownership, proposing to continue ‘right to buy’, increase the stamp duty threshold for first time buyers, and offering capital gains tax relief for landlords who sell their properties to existing tenants. 

There are no references to improving the standards of new homes or the links between housing quality and health outcomes. The Conservative manifesto touches on six of the twelve Healthy Homes Principles. They commit to:  

  • Fire safety – support lease holders affected by building safety problems through continuing ‘developer-funded remediation programmes for mid- and high-rise buildings’.
  • Access to amenities, nature and transport work with Active Travel England to make it safer for people to walk or cycle; continue support for programmes to encourage disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces; work with land owners and others to open up more access to nature routes; a design competition for urban greening.
  • Reducing carbon emissions and thermal comfort– invest £6 billion in energy efficiency in the next three years; an energy efficiency voucher scheme in England, to support energy efficiency measures and solar panels.
  • Climate resilience – continue the Flood Recovery Framework and funding flood resilience to protect homes, farms and businesses.
  • Affordable and secure housing – passing the Renters Reform Bill, including removing Section 21 no fault evictions; renewing the Affordable Homes Programme to deliver homes of all tenures and focus on regenerating housing estates; deliver the Local Authority Housing Fund.

On some Healthy Homes Principles, the Conservatives go backwards. Notably on ambient air pollution, they propose reversing the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London, as well as removing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20mph zones. 

Green Party manifesto 

The Green manifesto commits to building better, fairer and greener homes through the implementation of the party’s Right Homes, Right Place, Right Price Charter and its Fairer, Greener Homes Guarantee. Putting an emphasis on the need for warm, secure and affordable homes, the manifesto’s propositions relate to six of the Healthy Homes Principles:  

  • Reducing carbon emissions, climate resilience and thermal comfort – implementing a local authority-led retrofit programme to insulate homes and adapt buildings to more extreme climate conditions; an obligation for all new homes to meet Passivhaus or equivalent standards.
  • Access to amenities, nature and transport and cutting ambient air pollution – requiring new developments to be accompanied by extra investment in local health, transport and services; extend people’s access to green space and waterways close to their homes with a new English Right to Roam Act; an additional £19bn in public transport, support electrification and invest in new cycleways and footpaths; give local authorities control over and funding for improved bus services.
  • Affordable and secure homes – pledging to deliver 150.000 new social homes every year, implementing rent controls and ending no fault-evictions.

The Green manifesto also mentions ending the individual ‘right to buy’ in order to keep social homes for local communities and creating a community ‘right to buy’ for local authorities. While the Party does refer to Healthy Homes Principles, no direct link is made between health outcomes and housing quality.

Labour Party Manifesto 

The Labour manifesto proposes to build 1.5 million homes over the next parliament. This includes through a new generation of new towns, urban extensions and regeneration projects, mandatory national housing targets, and requiring all Combined and Mayoral Authorities to strategically plan for housing growth in their areas. They commit to increase stamp duty on home purchases by non-UK residents by 1%. Labour refers to ‘taking steps’ to ensure more high quality, well-designed and sustainable homes, such as through the devolution of powers over transport, adult education and skills, housing and planning, and employment support.

The manifesto talks about prioritising prevention of ill-health and tackling the ‘social determinants of health’, with the target of halving the life expectancy between the richest and poorest regions in England but does not refer to improving the standards in new homes. The manifesto touches on seven of the Healthy Homes Principles: 

  • Fire safety – commits to take ‘decisive action’ to improve building safety, including through regulation, to ensure we never again see a repeat of the Grenfell fire.
  • Access to amenities, nature and transport: to reform compulsory purchase compensation rules to improve land assembly, speed up site delivery, deliver housing, infrastructure, amenity, and transport; trial Neighbourhood Health Centres, bringing together GPs, district nurses, palliative care, and mental health specialists; improve ‘responsible access to nature’ with nine new National River Walks and three new National Forests in England, planting millions of trees and creating new woodlands; expand nature-rich habitats.
  • Thermal comfort and reducing carbon emissions – implement a Warm Homes Plan to support investment in home insulation and other improvements to reduce carbon emissions, such as solar panels and low carbon heating, of five million homes by investing an extra £6.6 billion in housing upgrade. Linked to Great British Energy proposal.
  • Climate resilience – improve resilience and preparation across government, local authorities, communities, and emergency services… to inform policy and establish national standards.
  • Preventing air pollution – extend Awaab’s Law to the private rented sector, which currently only applies to social housing, to ensure landlords take swift action to fix health hazards in the home (i.e. mould, damp).
  • Affordable and secure homes: strengthen planning obligations so new developments provide more affordable homes; change the Affordable Homes Programme to deliver more homes from existing funding; prioritise building new social rented homes and protecting existing stock by reviewing the ‘right to buy’ discounts; increase protections on newly-built social housing; review how to better protect leaseholders from costs and take steps to accelerate the pace of remediation.

Liberal Democrats Party Manifesto 

The Lib Dem manifesto proposes to increase building new homes to 380,000 a year across the UK, including ten new garden cities. They propose reforming the Land Compensation Act 1961 so that land value is based on current use and not Hope Value, along with other measure to enable development such as ‘use-it-or-lost-it’ planning permission. They make a clear reference to the relationship between housing quality and health, and enforcement of standards for socially rented homes but no reference to improving standards in new homes. The Lib Dems manifesto touches on eight of the Healthy Homes principles. They commit to: 

  • Fire safety remove dangerous cladding from all buildings and ensure that leaseholders do not have to pay.
  • Access to amenities, nature and transport ensure all development has appropriate infrastructure, services and amenities integrated into the planning process; to significantly increase access to a ‘healthy natural environment’, including a new Environmental Rights Act, 100% biodiversity net gain for large development, introducing a general duty of care for the environment, targets to stop decline in natural environment, and doubling the size of protected areas, woodland and wildlife habitats.
  • Inclusive, accessible and adaptable homes – no specific commitment but they do have a broad aim to ensure ‘everyone can access housing that meets their needs’; and adopt new accessibility standards for public spaces.
  • Preventing air pollution – introduce a Clean Air Act based on World Health Organisations guidelines.
  • Climate resilient homes – ensure homes are not built in areas of high flood risk without adequate mitigation, by allowing local authorities to set their own fees; amend the Flood and Water Management Act to require sustainable drainage systems in new developments; amongst other commitments.
  • Reducing carbon emissions and thermal comfort in homes – ensure all new homes are zero carbon; a ten-year emergency home retrofit programme, reinstitution of the requirement for rented properties to achieve a minimum EPC C rating by 2028; establishment a social tariff; decoupling electricity prices from wholesale gas prices.
  • Affordable and secure tenure – build 150,000 social homes a year; ban no fault evictions; make three-year tenancies the default; and introduce a national register of licenced landlords; abolish residential leaseholds; cap ground rents; end rough sleeping by scrapping the Vagrancy Act, exempting homeless people from the Shared Accommodation Rate, and give authorities sufficient resources to deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act, amongst other measures.

Plaid Cymru (CD

The Plaid Cymru’s manifesto proposes to introduce a Right to Adequate Housing to ensure that everybody has a safe and affordable home in their community. The Party commits to develop a plan to deliver housing needs, including to build more social and municipal homes to help tackle the rent rises of the private rental sector, but does not provide a specific target for delivery. However, the manifesto does not mention housing quality and the impact it plays on health outcomes. The manifesto touches on four of the Healthy Homes Principles, including: 

  • Access to amenities, nature and transport – to include these when planning for new developments.
  • Affordable and secure homes – the introduction of a Right to Adequate Housing, rent controls and other market interventions.
  • Reducing carbon emissions – the implementation of a long-term plan for retrofitting existing housing to cut emissions and energy bills.
  • Inclusive, accessible and adaptable – not specifically addressing housing, the Party commits to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People into UK law…to ensure people with disabilities can enjoy their fundamental freedoms from ‘poverty, social exclusion, discrimination, and negligence’. 

Reform Party contract 

The Reform party ‘contract’ refers to the current pressure on housing, blaming mass migration first and overly bureaucratic planning regulations second. The Party does not commit to a specific target on housing delivery and instead focuses on: reviewing the planning system, which includes proposing tax incentives for development of brownfield sites; reforming Social Housing Law to prioritise UK born citizens in social housing; and abolishing the Renters’ Reform Bill, as they state that the ‘existing legislation was adequate to address bad practice’. There are no policies which mention of any of the Healthy Homes Principles, nor of housing quality and its link to health. 

Scottish National Party Manifesto

The Scottish National Party (SNP) acknowledges the cost-of-living crisis, in relation to sky high energy costs and increased mortgage payments. On housing, the manifesto proposes to devolve Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance as an innovative approach to tackling child poverty, expanding the delivery of social housing and help funding and encouraging investment in house building. It also mentions tackling the housing emergency by restoring the cut to the Capital Budget. Additionally, they would address the imbalance in VAT rates in the construction sector to encourage the refurbishment and retrofitting of existing buildings.

Apart from affordable housing, the SNP manifesto only touches upon a limited number of the Healthy Homes Principles in their policies. It does not refer to improving the quality of homes, the link between housing and health, or the need for improved standards.

  • Access to amenities, nature and transport – Provide free bus travel for over 60s and under 22s; remove peak fares from railway journeys.
  • Preventing air pollution – Promote a fair and affordable transition to zero-emission transport fuels and ban the import and sale of new, non zero-emission buses by 2025; Strengthen incentives to purchase cleaner vehicles.
  • Affordable and secure homes and thermal comfort– an annual uplift of the Local Housing Allowance, and taking into account rental costs; create a single, flexible fuel poverty scheme that combines the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation; and devolving housing benefit and the Local Housing Allowance.

Note: At the time of writing neither Sinn Féin nor the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) manifestos were available.

  

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