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Labour promises infrastructure commission

Words: Laura Edgar

The Labour Party has committed to creating a National Infrastructure Commission at the launch of its general election manifesto.

Launched today, Britain Can Be Better sets out Labour’s plans for government, including policies on housing, planning and infrastructure.

The party explains in the manifesto that it would take “a long-term approach to the major investment decisions facing the country” by setting up an independent National Infrastructure Commission. This, Labour says, would “assess how best to meet Britain’s infrastructure needs” and would make recommendations to the government, holding it to account.

Additionally, a Labour government, the manifesto says, would prioritise investment in flood prevention.

The manifesto also highlighted Labour’s commitment to HS2, which it will continue to support as well as expanding rail links across the North.

Britain Can Be Better also reaffirms Labour’s commitment to building at least 200,000 homes a year, which it would achieve by implementing the recommendations of the Lyon’s Review.

‘Use it or lose it’ powers would be given to local authorities in a bid to encourage developers to build while Labour also pledged to support small builders through a Help to Build scheme.

A Future Homes Fund would be unlocked “by requiring that the billions of pounds saved in Help to Buy ISAs be invested in increasing housing supply.”

To boost housing supply, Labour said it “will start to build a new generation of garden cities”.

The manifesto also contained details on £30 billion worth of devolution plans.

The English Devolution Act would see cities and counties receive funding as well as powers over “economic development, skills, employment, housing and business support”. Control over transport would be devolved too.

The manifesto commits to the full implementation of the Smith Agreement in Scotland as well giving the country extra powers over tax, welfare and jobs.

Welsh devolution would be given the same statutory basis as Scottish devolution, with proposals from the Silk Commission to be taken forward, so Wales has powers over its elections, transport and energy.

Speaking at the launch in Manchester, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the party would not promise anything it could not fund, emphasising the first page of the manifesto, which states: “Every policy in this manifest is paid for. Not one commitment requires additional borrowing.”

The Conservative Party has pledged to double the amount of first-time buyers by 2020, while the Liberal Democrats have announced that they will introduce a Help to Rent scheme.

To read the RTPI's sumary of the Labour manifesto, visit their website.