The Labour Party’s National Policy Forum “consultation” is under way and ends on 17 March. CLPs and ward branches can send in “submissions” (of up to 600 words, with no fixed format), though they should not really expect a reasoned yes-or-no response to these. The “policy commissions” then feed into a full NPF meeting on 21-23 July 2023, which in turn will send proposals to conference (8-11 October), where they can be amended (though that is difficult).
There are six policy commissions to which you can send submissions.
The Labour Campaign for Council Housing (LCCH) has urged CLPs and branches to send submissions to the policy commission report entitled “A future where families come first”:
LLI has backed the LCCH push, because adding weight to a push already underway on a particular issue has more chance of some effect than a scattergun range of left-wing submissions.
The Socialist Health Association has (as we understand it) indicated a wish for submissions based on the 2022 conference motion (below). Momentum has published (late in the day) a range of other submission proposals:
On the anti-union laws they clearly say repeal all anti-union laws (not just the most recent). Though they also say “permit electronic ballots” which I think only makes sense if there remain legal impositions on how unions can and can’t ballot…
Conversely on migrants’ rights they go no further than repeal the most recent anti-asylum legislation and “scrap the hostile environment”. And on protest rights and policing, only repealing the PCSC, with nothing broader on curbing police power, increasing accountability, or dealing with older legislation like the 1986 Public Order Act
On energy ownership they include “democratic worker and citizen control” of energy extraction, transmission and supply and “offering all workers in the fossil fuel industry retraining and unionised jobs in the renewable industry on at least equivalent terms and conditions with high job security”.
On trans rights they call for GRC reform for self-ID but nothing else (e.g. nothing to say on addressing the grossly inadequate state of NHS trans healthcare)
LCCH says: “Whatever we may feel about this process it’s important to get in submissions from where we can to get across the message that we want a commitment to policies overwhelmingly passed at the 2019 and 2021 conferences. Wycombe CLP has decided it will send in to the consultation its call ‘to accept in full the Housing Composite motion passed at the 2021 conference’.” Since LCCH has done the work to study the documents and propose submission text, you may wish to support that effort, even though there are many other policy areas where we’d want input.
Below is the Wycombe CLP motion (pruned to cut out its detailed local references). You can put together 600 words from that and the 2021 conference policy (below) for a submission.
Wycombe CLP Notes:
Housing costs continue to rise faster than earnings with private rent rising at almost double the pace of wages. Social Housing provision is totally inadequate
The right to adequate housing is a human right
To re-affirm our previous call upon the Policy Forum, Shadow Cabinet and Leadership to accept in full the Housing composite motion passed at the 2021 Conference
To call on the Leadership of the party to unequivocally commit to following the lead of the Labour administration in Wales, and Scottish Government, in ending Right to Buy / Acquire
This is the motion passed at 2021 conference
# Summary from Labour List
• funding councils to deliver 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes;
• enshrine a right to adequate housing in law;
• repeal anti-squatting legislation and the Vagrancy Act;
• end Right to Buy and ‘no-fault evictions’;
• give councils stronger powers of compulsory purchase to tackle land banking;
• give councils powers to restrict second home purchases;
• end homelessness by instituting a ‘housing-first’ system;
• commit to strengthening tenants’ rights;
• fund the retrofitting of council housing.
# Full text
Conference notes that Labour has a longstanding record of positive policies based on respect for human rights, and housing policies aimed at ensuring that everyone can live in a home that is healthy, safe and affordable.
The Grenfell Tower fire and COVID pandemic have now highlighted a lack of investment in public housing, unsafe building practices, and weak legal protection for tenants and leaseholders alike. In addition, we know that the current housing crisis disproportionately affects women, ethnic minorities, young people, and people on lower incomes.
The Covid pandemic has aggravated the severe economic and health impacts of the housing crisis. In December 2020 the Health Foundation identified that prior to the pandemic a third of households in England had housing problems relating to overcrowding, affordability and poor-quality housing.
Prior to the pandemic, thousands of households were struggling with their housing costs in the unaffordable and insecure private rented sector.
Due to Covid, many more households are struggling. In Cornwall, the private rented sector is also dramatically shrinking due to second home ownership and as houseowners sell up to make the most of the Covid house price bubble or rent as AirBnB/to students.
The lifting of the temporary ban on evictions and ending of the Furlough scheme will make matters worse and lead to a rise in homelessness.
The Conservative government has done little to support those struggling to access decent, affordable and secure housing to rent.
Homelessness continues to rise and is expected to accelerate with 1 in 200 people now homeless, while there are more than 200,000 empty homes and over 1.15 million people on social housing waiting lists.
The UK’s provision for the disabled was based on the needs of those who suffered their disabilities from injuries during the two World Wars. However, changes in the demography and needs of the disabled over the last 80 years, including those that become disabled in later life, have led to a significant gap in the provision of housing.
Factors affecting this include:
• A reduction in the proportion of council housing
• Our NHS enabling a greater number of disabled people to live long and valuable lives
• The design, standards, and density of modern houses
Houses are often compact, ill designed to accommodate wheelchairs, and two storeys.
The adaption of such houses takes a very long time to be completed; typically, more than a year, and is costly. These adaptions are removed when the houses are no longer needed for the disabled. Some councils do have houses specially adapted for families with disabled members but have no provision for single disabled or couples.
• The UK housing market is broken.
• The Conservative government has done little to support those struggling to access decent, affordable and secure housing to rent
• The UK has obligations under international law to ensure that everyone enjoys the human right to housing that is affordable, accessible, habitable, secure and culturally appropriate, without discrimination. Unfortunately, while the 1998 Human Rights Act protects rights such as free speech, it does not explicitly guarantee the right to adequate housing. Setting this right into legislation would help to eradicate homelessness, and could avert housing problems for people in all tenures.
• The very large number of second/holiday homes in Cornwall and similar areas has greatly increased the level of housing insecurity and household impoverishment linked to housing unaffordability.
Local economies suffer when so many local households are left with little disposable income after meeting their housing costs.
Many families with young children are finding that reliance on insecure, expensive and often low quality private rentals, is a permanent condition rather than a transitional phase in their lives.
The impact on housing availability of second/holiday homes is felt not only in areas popular with visitors but in places to which the residents of visitor orientated areas are forced to move.
• Local authorities should have powers to compulsorily purchase development land that is being ‘land-banked’ and not developed by the landowner.
• There is now a clear need for the building of houses designed specifically for the disabled and reserved solely for such people.
• People in this country should be able to live in a council property that is properly maintained, especially in circumstances where a council tenant has to also pay service charges and is not getting a quality service from that. From cutbacks to making the service about targets; we are not figures but human beings.
• Many experiencing homelessness are denied support because of ‘priority need’ rules or having ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ Conference calls on the Labour Party to demand that the government takes action now to end the housing crisis by: • Fully funding councils to deliver the building of 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes.
• Enshrine the right to adequate housing in domestic law, to ensure that future Governments respect, protect and fulfil the human right to adequate housing.
• Repeal the 2012 anti-squatting legislation, the Vagrancy Act and all legislation that criminalises being homeless. End the use of anti-social behaviour legislation against begging and rough sleeping
• Scrapping the tax loophole on second homes and allowing councils to charge a levy on second homes to be used to provide local social housing.
• Giving local Councils additional planning powers in the form of change of use restrictions to restrict the number of second/holiday homes in areas where they are eroding the sustainability of local communities.
• End ‘right to buy’
• End homelessness by implementing a national ‘Housing First’ system with floating support, to house all those experiencing homelessness regardless of immigration status.
• Reviewing council housing debt to address underfunding of housing revenue accounts.
• Ending Section 21 (no fault) evictions
• Commit to strengthening tenants’ rights
• Commit to giving local authorities powers to compulsorily purchase development land that is being ‘land-banked’ and not developed by the landowner.
• Fund the retro-fitting of council housing to cut greenhouse gases, provide jobs and promote a shift from outsourcing to Direct Labour Organisations
• Build disablity housing and in the meantime encourage local councils to include houses specifically designed for single occupation or couples. This should, in the short term, include private developments.
Conference also calls upon Labour to place these actions at the centre of its housing policies.
Health: 2022 conference motion
• 12 years of Conservative underfunding, neglect and mismanagement have left our NHS with waiting lists at the highest on record and the lowest level of patient satisfaction since 1997
• those needing mental health support have been particularly let down
• that the imposition of US-style structures such as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in the Health and Care Act 2022 shows how corporate involvement in 11 policy making leads to private profits at the expense of patient care and workers’ pay
• that the ICSs, rather than integrate, obstruct high quality social care alongside the NHS
• that the personal experiences of many in countries with healthcare for profit systems, most notably the USA, warn of the dangers of privatised healthcare systems
• that there is a crisis in which GPs work under extreme pressure, beyond contracted hours; numbers entering training will not sustain the workforce
• that good mental health runs through all aspects of life and can only be tackled as an embedded part of wider living standards
• a quarter of mental health beds have been cut, over a third of children were turned away from mental health services last year alone, and right now 1.6 million people are waiting for mental health treatment
• that Labour created the NHS and should be its primary defender and reject any plan to increase privatisation in the healthcare system. Conference reaffirms:
• Labour’s unequivocal commitment to a publicly funded, publicly provided, publicly accountable, universal and comprehensive National Health Service.
• There must be direct employment of NHS workers, ending commercialisation and fragmentation and the use of outsourcing, private providers and public-private partnerships within the NHS.
• Ending outsourcing better enables our friends and allies in the union movement to secure fair pay and conditions for their members, whose work during the pandemic saved tens of thousands of lives.
• Health services are of better quality, more equitable and cost-effective when nationally planned and provided by democratically-accountable, public authorities with local expertise.
• The socialist achievements of the Welsh government in publicly providing and funding a public Welsh NHS Conference resolves Labour must:
• adopt a position of unequivocal support for the National Health Service and a position of outright opposition and commit to vote against any and all forms of privatisation of the NHS;
• commit to returning all privatised portions of the NHS to public control upon forming a Government;
• not accept donations from companies interested in outsourcing NHS functions;
• immediately launch a public campaign against privatisation of the NHS and actively support current campaigns and activist groups;
• publicly support all NHS Trade Unions campaigning to return to and retain all public control of the NHS, including, but not limited to any legal Industrial action;
• commit to support GPs so that everyone can access care when needed and staff are developed and valued;
• guarantee an appointment for all citizens
• allow medical professionals to use a variety of appointment types (e.g. virtual or in-person) based on medical need
• provide more places for General Practice, Nurse Practitioners, and other staff roles where a shortage exists
• build and maintain an NHS fit for the future, by providing the staff, equipment and modern technology needed to treat patients on time.
• commit to a national well-being strategy in which mental health prevention is embedded within wider aims. The strategy would elevate the importance of mental health and link to other policy areas of our society and economy.
Conference therefore resolves:
• To repeal the Health and Care Act 2022 and to reverse and eliminate Integrated Care Systems
• To establish a publicly funded, publicly provided, publicly accountable, universal and comprehensive National Health Service
• To return all privatised portions of the NHS to public control upon forming a Government;
• To ensure a Labour government and economy are fit to handle another pandemic with proper preparations and regulations.
• To ensure Labour invests in research that focuses on epidemiology, biomedical sciences and research in other STEM fields, bracing for all forms of a pandemic.
• To establish comprehensively improved public health
• To establish a publicly funded and publicly provided National Care Service with care and support for independent living for all who need it.
Mover: Socialist Health Association Seconder: Lewisham Deptford CLP