My plan for housing

by Steff on 19 February, 2024

England’s housing market is profoundly unfair, with a secure home becoming increasingly impossible for millions of people, especially the young, less well off and ethnic minorities.

Successive governments have pursued policies to benefit homeowners, without considering the impact on those without property.

A fair deal is needed for housing, which provides for the needs of everyone, not just homeowners, and meets the aspirations of millions of younger people and the less well off to have the security that older generations and the wealthy enjoy.

Housing at the moment is at an impasse. Local councils have virtually no power to direct the type of housing they want to see built to meet local needs.

Big developers get away with massively reducing their proportion of social housing, and if a council says no to a big development of homes that people locally can’t afford, it gets sued.

We have to give power to local councils to decide and determine what sort of housing they allow to be built in their communities.

The current planning system is a developers’ charter, and it’s no wonder that big developers are paying so much money in party political donations. A simple change to the planning law could completely transform this. Likewise, we cannot fail to recognise that ensuring the highest standards of insulation and energy efficiency don’t just benefit the planet, they also benefit householders in the form of lower or low energy bills. 

I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues believe in taking action to tackle the housing crisis. We’re calling for significantly more homes to be built every year, including significantly more social homes. The UK simply hasn’t built enough social housing for years, while what we do have has been sold off without replacement.

We already have a history of sustainably delivering homes, working in partnership with the local community. Liberal Democrat councils are building thousands of new council and housing association homes.

But local authorities need greater powers to tackle the excesses of big developers, including ending land banking, as well as being able to build more homes themselves. 

Renters need a fair deal including finally ending no-fault evictions, extending the length of tenancies and ensuring rent can only increase by a fair amount each year. 

And if we believe we need to tackle the climate crisis, we need a long-term programme to insulate our homes, to end fuel poverty, cut energy bills and slash emissions. New homes must also be built to zero-carbon standards, ensuring they are good for the pocket as well as the climate. 

I am, with my Liberal Democrat colleagues, committed to solving the housing crisis, including but not limited to:

  • A national target for building social homes, aiming for 150,000 a year by the end of the next parliament. With new powers for local authorities to build their own social and affordable housing.
  • A ten year emergency programme to insulate Britain’s homes as well as new standards to ensure new homes are warm, cheap to heat and produce minimal emissions
  • Ensuring developers build appropriate infrastructure needed for new housing developments.
  • Abolishing leaseholds for residential properties and effectively ending ground rents by cutting them to a nominal fee. 
  • Introducing a fair deal for renters, including longer default tenancies, rent smoothing over the course of a tenancy and banning no fault evictions.
  • New powers for local authorities to control and manage second homes and holiday lets.
  • Expansion of Neighbourhood Planning, more democratic engagement in Local Plans, reforming the Land Compensation Act to ensure land can be bought at a fair price and extending the Liberal Democrat proposed Commercial Landowner Levy to land with planning permission, but not yet built on. 
  • Building 10 new garden cities to help tackle the housing crisis.

The Liberal Democrats will create a fair deal for housing. Taking on the big developers, delivering new homes, improving renters’ rights and protecting our environment – together we can tackle the housing crisis.

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