Saturday, 28 February 2015

Lib Dems accuse Tories of blocking 25,000 homes

Business secretary Vince Cable has blamed ‘Tory dogma’ for blocking the development of 25,000 council homes.

The Liberal Democrat minister claimed his party wanted to relax local authority borrowing rules, allowing them to pool their limits and release up to £2.8 billion. 

In a speech to the Social Liberal Forum in Manchester on Saturday he said some councils were ‘straining at the leash to get ahead and solve local affordable housing shortages and put unemployed construction workers back into work’.

He said these councils should be allowed to access the unused borrowing limits of those that did not.

He claimed this ‘modest step’ would see tens of thousands of homes built.

‘What is stopping them? Frankly, Tory dogma,’ the business secretary said.  

‘And the Tories are hiding behind Treasury methodology, saying that more borrowing by councils beyond permitted limits will break the fixed rules. 

‘So even though freeing up this borrowing space would result in tens of thousands more homes being built, and many times more jobs, they would rather start talking about the cuts they want to make, rather than the houses that we should build.  

‘That is the difference between Lib Dems and Tories on this matter.’

Housing and local government groups lobbied chancellor George Osborne to lift local authority borrowing caps in last month’s spending review. They claim that raising the limits – which were imposed in April 2012 as part of reform of the housing revenue account subsidy system – would allow around 60,000 homes to be built over five years.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing a mechanism that would allow councils that have reached their borrowing limits to take up unused capacity from other local authorities. The plan is contained in a motion that will be presented to the party conference in the autumn by Mr Cable and party leader Nick Clegg, and they say it could deliver between 15,000 and 25,000 homes.

Mr Cable also issued an apparent warning against the controversial help to buy scheme, saying easier credit would make houses ‘still less affordable to the ordinary first time buyer’.

He called for ‘a surge of house building of the kind that lifted Britain out of the inter war slump’, but said the cutbacks in grants were a ‘negative’. 

‘The Tories and Labour didn’t invest in our social housing stock – 1.1 million homes were lost under the Tories and another 420,000 under Labour,’ he said.

‘At the end of the previous government, house building had fallen to its lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • People desperately need homes at social rent. Please, please can we have homes at social rent.

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  • It also seems to be forgotten by our half-wit government that, once built, council homes bring in revenue. For councils to build houses for renting out is a no-brainer. Regrettably with have a government with no brain.

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  • Usual Suspect

    Then again would you like someone else who you have no control over using up your borrowing limit. If so In the words of several e mails a day ---- If you please let me know your account details---.

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  • What an odd ball lot the Tories of the 21st century are, they should look no further than the 1950's when 10,000,s of council houses a year were being built. It would be worth noting that it was a Tory Minister of Housing called Harold McMillan who had them built.
    But then again what can we expect from people who don't even know the price of a pint of milk.

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  • The Torylition don't want social homes, this is why they are trying to sell them, even with£75,000 rebates? We are getting shafted and we are not awake to it. The US / EU trade deal will eventually kill us off, two of the biggest continents in the world joining forces, we are a step nerarer ONE WORLD government! With no Public Services of our own!

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  • Chris

    "He called for ‘a surge of house building of the kind that lifted Britain out of the inter war slump’, but said the cutbacks in grants were a ‘negative’."

    What a shame he does not know of anyone in the government who could make such a thing happen - perhaps he could ask the Business Secretary to look into it by asking some fellow Cabinet Members what could be done to assist.

    Bloody marvelous when the Government pretend they are not empowered to carry out the solutions they would prefer!

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  • I was told that there were to be no more "social housing" as such. That is was to be "affordable rents."

    @ Paul Jones of course we need good homes, I have even suggested that those past their sell buy date could be rebuilt with a better use of land. Not to forget better quality homes that will last.

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  • BlokeWithAConscience

    Council housing is the only solution to the housing crisis with council rents that tenants can really afford, it just needs those in power (or opposition) to wake up. There again there is nothing in it for them as they prefer the expensive Schapps affordable MV80 model i.e. market rents for the profiteers. Good news that Labour's "convergence" is dead, the mechanism for forcing up council rents for no particular reason to housing association price levels. It would have been better to cut housing association rent levels down to council rent levels hence reducing housing benefit.

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  • Norman Froggatt

    You forgot the new business/monetary alliance of Germany and China.

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  • Not long till 2015, but please, please be very cautious what you wish for

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