Labour Party Conference 2021 – the Right to Food and Housing

What are the Rights to Food and Housing?

The Right to Food and the Right to Housing are two of the fundamental pillars of Economic and Social Rights. If enshrined into UK law, this would mean legal protections ensuring that the government would be required to safeguard our essential needs as citizens – primarily, our rights to adequate food, housing, health and work.

The Right to Housing specifically addresses the security of tenure, availability of services, affordability, habitability, safety, and accessibility of housing.

Similarly, the Right to Food addresses the fundamental right to the availability, accessibility, adequacy and the sustainability of food.

What was passed at conference?

This year’s Labour Party Conference saw several exciting policy motions passed by delegates across the party – including two important motions on food and housing.

Motion on the Right to Food:

Conference passed a motion in support of embedding a Right to Food policy in the Labour Party’s next general election manifesto, concluding “that access to food should be a legal right in the UK, and that this government should be legally responsible for ensuring its citizens do not go hungry”.

Motion on Housing and the Right to Adequate Housing:

Labour Housing Group put forward a set of policy demands to conference delegates, including a call for the Labour Party to enshrine a Right to Adequate Housing in law – all of which were passed.

The other demands included a call for Labour to: advocate funding councils to deliver 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes; 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; and to fund the retrofitting of council housing.

If the Labour Party were to agree to including to both the Right to Housing and Food into their next general election manifesto, it would mean they were making a formal commitment to seek to enshrine the aforementioned protections into law if they took power. If passed, it would guarantee that all governments going forward would have an obligation to ensure UK citizens were protected against food poverty and inadequate housing. It would also offer people a chance to hold governments to account if they were to fall short or violate these rights.

What will this mean?

It is incredibly positive that these two motions were passed and demonstrates that there is a great deal of support for both rights within the Labour Party. However, policy motions passed at conference are not binding and therefore will not necessarily be taken on board by the party. The Labour Campaign for Human Rights calls on the Labour Party to recognise the overwhelming support for these two policies amongst its membership and respond accordingly.