What the 2021 Senedd election manifestos mean for the built environment
With the 6 May 2021 polling date for the Senedd election rapidly approaching, the main political parties in Wales have now published their manifestos, setting out their plans and policy intentions for the next parliamentary term, should they be elected.
Below, we outline some of the key points and pledges made by each party, and how they compare to CIOB’s vision for the built environment in Wales.
For a more detailed analysis of the policies set out in each manifesto, take a look at our comparison document here.
The Welsh Conservative Party
The Welsh Conservative Party manifesto, entitled A plan for recovery & change focuses strongly on the union, and how the party will work with the UK Government to deliver its pledges. It promises to “kickstart Wales’ economic recovery and rebuild for a stronger, greener, more equal future,” and makes several key pledges, including:
Creating 65,000 jobs;
Building 100,000 new houses in the next decade;
Investing £2 billion to create modern infrastructure, including new roads and road upgrades, and green charging points;
Making Wales net zero by 2050, investing in clean energy solutions and creating 15,000 new, green jobs; and
Delivering five new hospitals.
On building quality and safety, the manifesto promises to establish a Fire Safety Fund to compensate leaseholders for fire safety works, and to reform leasehold tenures with a ban on the sale of new leaseholder homes. It also pledges to overhaul the Welsh planning system to cut red tape, including simplifying Section 106 contributions.
To support education and skills, the party promises to expand degree apprenticeships and to provide 150,000 apprenticeships by 2026, as well as investing £100m in Further Education colleges.
As well as vowing to reach net zero by 2050, the manifesto also sets out a plan for vouchers of up to £5,000 for households to improve their energy efficiency, with the limit increased to £10,000 for low income households.
Finally, the manifesto commits to a two-year Council Tax freeze and promises no new taxes during the next Senedd term, as well as cutting Stamp Duty for first time buyers and introducing a business rate holiday for SMEs.
The Welsh Labour manifesto, Moving Wales Forward, promises to “create the different, sustainable, exciting Wales of the future,” and sets out plans for:
A Young Person’s Guarantee, which will give everyone under the age of 25 the offer of work, education, training, or self-employment;
New jobs in Wales, generated through the creation of 20,000 new, low carbon social homes for rent
A greener country, by abolishing single use plastics and creating a National Forest for Wales, as well as creating a timber-based industrial strategy.
The manifesto also promises to improve building safety and develop a fire safety fund for existing buildings, as well as campaigning for the Health and Safety Executive to be devolved to Wales. It promises to regenerate towns and highstreets, and a 10-year Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan to support a zero-carbon economy.
On education and skills, the party promises to create 125,000 ‘all-age’ apprenticeships in the next Senedd term, working with unions to expand the use of shared and degree apprenticeships. Expanded Personal Learning Accounts will also allow flexible learning and skills development.
The manifesto commits to no increases in Welsh rates of income tax until the economy recovers from the pandemic, and to overhaul the Council Tax regime to make it fairer. It also plans to keep the 1% Stamp Duty increase on second home purchases.
In its manifesto, Let Us Face the Future Together, Plaid Cymru outlines a “new path” for Wales and focuses on self-determination, pledging an independence referendum in the next parliamentary term if elected. The manifesto sets out several goals to “build a new Wales,” including:
A plan for prosperity, incorporating a £6bn Green Economic Stimulus to create 60,000 new jobs.
A National Employment Plan, including a guaranteed job or high-quality training for 16-24-year-olds.
Building 50,000 new social and affordable homes.
Tackling the climate emergency, by setting a Wales 2035 Mission to decarbonise and reach net zero.
On the built environment, the manifesto highlights plans to reform the planning system to improve quality, and to replace Section 106 agreements with a single community infrastructure levy. It also pledges £4bn extra infrastructure funding to support Wales’ economic recovery from Covid-19.
The manifesto pledges to invest in major training programmes to address under-representation in the construction industry and to create a Skills Framework to better match jobs and jobseekers. It also promises to conduct a ministerial review to give parity of esteem to vocational learning.
To reach its accelerated net zero target, the manifesto sets out plans for a national retrofit strategy of the Welsh housing stock and the widespread installation of heat pumps.
Welsh Liberal Democrats
The Welsh Liberal Democrats manifesto, Put Recovery First, focuses on economic, social and environmental recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, promising “a plan that moves Wales forward to a new normal where we all have the opportunity to thrive.”
Key pledges in the manifesto include:
A £1bn package of investment per year to address the climate emergency.
Increasing the share of funding for mental health to 13% of all NHS spend by 2028.
Embedding a right to lifelong learning, including expanded Personal Learning Accounts for everyone to benefit from flexible and accessible courses.
Building 30,000 new social homes for rent.
To address building safety, the manifesto promises to deliver reforms to protect those living in high rise buildings, as well as to set clear minimum standards for the private rented sector. It also sets out a prospective Planning Act to reform existing legislation, granting the Future Generations Commissioner powers to challenge planning decisions and replacing Section 106 contributions with a Development Levy.
On education and skills, the party promised to expand degree apprenticeships, including at postgraduate level, and to address under-representation in apprenticeships more widely. It pledges to work with Further Education providers and employers to develop a new vision for post-16 education.
In addition to its green investment package, the manifesto also sets out a Green Homes Act designed to reduce utility bills, and to invest in retrofitting existing homes to make them more energy efficient.
The party promises to freeze business rates for the life of the next Senedd and work towards overhauling the system in the long term, and to pilot a nationwide Universal Basic Income scheme.
Wales Green Party
In the Green Party manifesto, Transform Wales, the party focuses on the action it believes should be taken to address the climate emergency and promises to “build a fairer, greener, more resilient Wales.” The manifesto sets out several key pledges, including:
A Green New Deal, carried out via a Green Transformation Fund to finance decarbonisation through the issuing bonds.
Accelerating emissions targets to reach net zero by 2030.
Building 12,000 energy efficient homes each year, the majority of which would be social housing.
Widening access to higher and further education and ensuring that no fees are payable for initial degrees.
On the built environment, the party promises to introduce a new Planning and Environment Act to harmonise planning and environment law, including a presumption against development in certain areas, and community-centred positive planning approaches. They also set out plans to create price stability in housing via regulation, to deter developer speculation.
To improve access to education and skills, additional low carbon training opportunities will be offered as part of the Green New Deal, and further investment to support apprenticeship routes into work at the Further Education stage is promised.
The manifesto also pledges investment to retrofit the existing housing stock and to remove the existing 5% VAT on refurbishment materials, as well as supporting the development of Welsh forestry and wood products.
The party promises to immediately introduce a Universal Basic Income, and to advocate for a reset of the tax system to redistribute wealth more equally.