Lib Dems to vote on house building strategy
Liberal Democrats will vote on whether to adopt a housing policy that would see the party commit to building 300,000 homes a year at their annual conference next week.
The paper suggests the failure to build enough houses is making home buying increasingly unaffordable and forcing rents up, and that tenants are suffering the consequences of bad landlords. It also suggests funding social housing again.
‘The most effective way to put housing on a sustainable footing in the future is to give more power and control to: those trapped in poor housing and short tenancies; small organisations, cooperatives, companies and individuals wanting to build but held back by corporate land-banking and lack of land and finance; and local communities and councils,’ the paper says.
The policy paper promises to stimulate house building by using finance initiatives and releasing public land through build now pay later schemes, as well as introducing a ‘use it or lose it’ policy whereby a proportion of land has to be developed within a set period. Councils could be given powers to levy residential land that goes undeveloped after that time.
The policy would also require all government-owned housing to undergo energy efficiency improvement through the green deal by 2018, and all registered providers by 2025.
It also calls for stronger accountability from the social housing regulator and to give tenants the power to vote to change their social housing provider and have their stock transfer to another provider willing to receive them.
If the policy is voted through it will be adopted officially by next month.
Earlier this week Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, called for new powers to be introduced to allow the mayor to introduce controls on second homes in London. This will also be debated at the Lib Dem party conference on Wednesday.
Lib Dems in Southwark have also secured an amendment to the housing debate asking the party to reject the idea of selling off higher value social homes and replacing them with properties in cheaper areas. The idea was mooted in a recent report by right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange, that suggested the money from the sale of homes could be reinvested in new builds. Chair of Bermondsey & Old Southwark Liberal Democrats Ben Johnson said: ‘People in Southwark don’t want our council homes to be sold off to the highest bidder when there is such a high level of need in the borough for a decent, affordable home.’
The Lib Dem conference is in Brighton and starts on Sunday.