Homes for All (Housing Policy Paper)

Please find below the housing policy resolution for our Lib Dem Conference in Brighton. It’s radical, achievable and puts clear blue water between us and the Tory and Labour parties.

Conference notes with concern that the historic failure to create a sustainable housing model has implications, not just on individuals and families, but on the wider economy and jobs market. In particular:

I. The failure to build enough houses is making home-buying increasingly unaffordable and forcing rents higher and higher.

II. More and more families are facing the instability of short-term leases in the private rented sector, and too many tenants are suffering the consequences of bad landlords.

III. Poor housing is bad for health and holds back achievement in school.

IV. The rapid increase in rents and the increasing number of people renting privately is putting welfare budgets under intense pressure.

Conference believes 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.

Conference endorses Policy Paper 104, Decent Homes for All, and its key priorities to:

  1. Build more homes, providing environmentally sustainable homes where people need them, helping with jobs and with kick-starting the economy.

B. Give tenants more power and security, making social landlords more accountable and improving standards and security in the rapidly growing private rented sector.

C. Ensure more local control, giving local councils, communities and individuals more power and autonomy to create thriving neighbourhoods in the face of the hugely diverse range of challenges that they face.

  1. Conference calls for action to deliver our priority in building more homes, particularly to:

a) Stimulate a major programme of house building, increasing the rate of construction until we reach at least 300,000 houses a year, using untapped sources of finance and giving more freedom to social landlords, local authorities and local communities.

b) Take radical steps to improve land supply, through releasing public land with ‘build now, pay later’ deals.

c) Tackle ‘landbanking’ through ‘Community Land Auctions’, ‘use it or lose it’ planning permissions and a competition review of the major builders.

d) Require, wherever possible, all government-owned housing to undergo energy efficiency improvement through the Green Deal by 2018, and all registered providers by 2025 – and bringing environmental standards to current levels whenever planning permission is extended.

Conference believes 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.

Conference endorses Policy Paper 104, Decent Homes for All, and its key priorities to:

  1. Build more homes, providing environmentally sustainable homes where people need them, helping with jobs and with kick-starting the economy.

B. Give tenants more power and security, making social landlords more accountable and improving standards and security in the rapidly growing private rented sector.

C. Ensure more local control, giving local councils, communities and individuals more power and autonomy to create thriving neighbourhoods in the face of the hugely diverse range of challenges that they face.

  1. Conference calls for action to deliver our priority in building more homes, particularly to:

a) Stimulate a major programme of house building, increasing the rate of construction until we reach at least 300,000 houses a year, using untapped sources of finance and giving more freedom to social landlords, local authorities and local communities.

b) Take radical steps to improve land supply, through releasing public land with ‘buildnow, pay later’ deals.

c) Tackle ‘landbanking’ through ‘Community Land Auctions’, ‘use it or lose it’ planning permissions and a competition review of the major builders.

d) Require, wherever possible, all government-owned housing to undergo energy efficiency improvement through the Green Deal by 2018, and all registered providers by 2025 – and bringing environmental standards to current levels whenever planning permission is extended.

  1. Conference calls for further action to give tenants more power and security, including to:

a) Increase protection for private tenants, promoting new longer tenancies and access toa housing ombudsman.

b) Give social housing tenants an even stronger role in how their providers are run – with tougher standards of accountability enforced by the Social Housing Regulator. We will also give tenants the power to vote to change their social housing provider and have their stock transfer to another provider willing to receive them.

c) Ensure a stronger role for the Social Housing Regulator, giving them the power to proactively cover ‘consumer’ standards, reintroducing a programme of inspections

Option A:

d) Reduce restrictions on the power of local authorities to set up comprehensive or targeted licensing schemes in any area they deem appropriate; establish a national licensing system for managing agents; and promote longer tenancies.

or Option B: 

d) Require all private landlords to obtain a license from their local authority, with nationalminimum standards for licensing and additional standards to be implemented at the local authority’s discretion; establish a national licensing system for managing agents and promote longer tenancies.

  1. Conference calls for more local control over housing policy, including to:

a) Give local authorities greater ability to control second homes, not just in rural areas, butalso in areas such as central London – where increasing numbers of homes are bought by overseas investors and left empty.

b) Improve powers to tackle the blight of empty homes, giving local communities, housing associations and individuals a greater role in refurbishing them and bringing them back  into use, and providing loans for private individuals to renovate an empty property, repaid through rent or sale, and reducing VAT on renovation.

c) Encourage more flexible local planning through optional use classes that allow greater control of second homes and private rented accommodation.

d) Allow social housing providers (including local authorities) to vary rents based on a tenant’s ability to pay, on a sliding scale up to market rent levels for those on the  highest incomes.

Applicability: England, except the change to VAT in 3 b) (line 58) which is Federal.

 

What do you think?

 

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. . Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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4 Responses to Homes for All (Housing Policy Paper)

  1. housing says:

    This is brilliant, exactly what we need, especially given the prices in the private rented market of late…

  2. David Huffadine-Smith says:

    What is the Lib-Dem view of greater use of Park Homes (ie static mobile homes) as a short-term measure to provide an emergency fast-track to providing low-cost homes, especially in rural areas.

  3. domjc says:

    i love the aim of getting to 300,000. it’s needed, esp in southern england.

    but….how are you going to achieve this? many of the measures relate either to improving homes (green deal) or helping tenants (landlord accreditation), or are already being done (‘build now, pay later’ & ‘pay to stay’). Whatever the merits (or not) of these, they will not deliver 300,000 homes, even in the wildest of libdem dreams. Even ‘untapped sources’, by which i presume you mean pension funds, are not going to get you that many homes anytime soon, and may not get you any at all in the short term. The same goes for worthy but long term reviews of the construction sector. The only way to guarantee 300,000 homes a year is if the state actually builds the damn things itself. That’s the only way it’s ever happened historically. Unless the policy commits to that, it is simply a list of helpful measures that won’t do very much at all in the short to medium term, ie the length of a parliament.

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