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  • Housing
    Article: Nov 22, 2017

    There are millions of people in desperate need of a home or paying extortionate rents who will not see any improvement to their living conditions.

    Far from the £15 billion promised by the Chancellor, the real figure for housing is closer to a much reduced £6 billion over the next 5 years.

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Nov 21, 2017
    By Vince Cable MP in The Guardian

    Urgent cash is needed for our ailing health service and those affected by corrosive benefit cuts. We have a plan which doesn't rely on a magic money tree

    There is a risk that this week's budget will be drowned out by Brexit and ministerial mishaps. But it really matters because the economy is in a precarious position.

  • Anita at Grantham Hospital.jpg
    Article: Nov 8, 2017
    By Stefan Pidluznyj in Lincolnshire Reporter

    Frustrated campaigners have criticised the latest delay in reopening Grantham A&E overnight, suggesting that NHS bosses had given them false hope that the department would be fully reinstated today.

    Many in the press and public galleries were expecting United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust to officially confirm the reopening of the unit at its board meeting in Sleaford on Tuesday, November 7.

  • Wera Hobhouse (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Nov 1, 2017

    The government has introduced draft legislation to ban letting agent fees in a victory for the Liberal Democrats, who called for the change in a Private Members' Bill last year.

    Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Spokesperson, commented:

    "I very much welcome the ban on lettings fees and the cap on deposits, which Liberal Democrats have long been campaigning for.

  • Stephen Lloyd (By Chris McAndrew (https://beta.parliament.uk/media/yhEkjW57) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Oct 18, 2017

    The Liberal Democrats will join opposition parties today in the debate on Universal Credit after growing support in the Commons for a demand by Stephen Lloyd MP for a delay in the roll-out of the troubled scheme. The Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesperson attacked the government's flagship policy as a "slow-motion car crash".

  • Housing
    Article: Oct 14, 2017
    By Laura Coyle in Liberal Democrat Newswire

    As a housing legal aid lawyer, it has long been my belief that access to decent quality secure housing should be given as much priority as access to quality healthcare and education. Without a decent secure home access to quality education is undermined and health is compromised.

    For too long all of the main political parties, including the Lib Dems, have failed to develop radical policies to deal with a growing crisis in housing in the UK which is feeding a relentless growth in inequality, between rich and the poor and between old and young.

    According to the most recent available data from the Department of Communities and Local Government, in 2014 the proportion of people in the UK owning their own home had fallen to 63.5% (its lowest rate since 1987) and the proportion of households living in social housing had fallen to 18% (from 33% in 1980). Meanwhile, the proportion of households living in private sector rented accommodation rose to 19% in 2014 (from a low of 9% in 1984).

    The statistics only tell half of the story. The other half is that the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 introduced sweeping changes to the private rental sector by doing away with protected tenancies and rent control. Private sector tenants today have no security of tenure beyond an initial statutory six month fixed term, beyond which the landlord can choose to repossess and/or increase the rent.

    Vince Cable said in his speech to party conference last month that, "homes are to live in; they're not pieces on a Monopoly board". He rightly talked about taxing foreigners who acquire residential property for investment purposes and protecting rural communities from absentee second home ownership. But we also need to talk about the buy to let market. Every time a homeowner decides to buy another property to rent out they deprive another household of the opportunity to buy their own home.

    If we believe that houses should be homes and not investment vehicles then we need to disincentivise the purchase of residential property to let rather than encourage it. Since April 2017, mortgage interest deductions have been limited to the basic rate, but the Liberal Democrats should be calling for all mortgage interest tax relief to be scrapped and to encourage private landlords to provide properties to let at more affordable rents and for longer periods we should explore the possibility of linking other deductible expenses from taxable rental income to the level of rent charged and the security of tenure offered.

    Of course, we also need to build more homes, and in particular social homes. But achieving a massive increase in the social housing stock will require funding. Allowing local authorities to borrow to build new homes is one part of the answer. But we should explore others. For example, the increase in land value from the grant of planning permission is huge but current taxation rates are low. It is the state that grants planning permission and yet in doing so it often prices itself out of the market for buying land for building new homes. We should look into the possibility of introducing a new, higher tax on the capital gain deriving from the grant of planning permission which is payable direct to the local authority to fund the acquisition of land for building new social homes.

    These are just a few ideas. The main purpose of this article is to say that we need to urgently start the debate on how to tackle one of the biggest drivers of inequality of our time. We have a proud tradition in our party of developing radical liberal policies to address social ills and we should be at the forefront of doing so now.

  • Tim Farron (By JackWilfred (Tim Farron 02, July 2016.jpg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Oct 4, 2017

    Responding to reports that Theresa May will announce a major government council house building programme in her conference speech today, Former Party Leader Tim Farron said:

    "Under the Tories, building of both social and affordable housing has plummeted.

    "Since 2015, this Conservative government has overseen the sell-off of over 25,000 council homes and replaced fewer than one in three.

    "Theresa May can announce all the new council homes she wants. But if this government doesn't reform the Right to Buy by allowing local authorities to suspend it if they wish, and ensure all homes sold are replaced, this announcement isn't worth the paper it's written on.

    "If the Tories are serious about tackling the housing crisis, May must also announce that she will ensure local authorities and housing associations can borrow the money needed to build more social housing."

  • Wera Hobhouse (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 18, 2017
    By Wera Hobhouse

    We have to do all we can to prevent another disaster like Grenfell - and that process starts with much tougher fire safety rules. That's why #LDConf has voted to toughen them today.

    Fire safety has to be put at the forefront of new building regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

    That is abundantly clear - and that's why, today, the Liberal Democrats have voted to give a stronger role to the social housing regulator, and are pushing for a package of measures to improve fire safety and building regulations.

  • Wera Hobhouse (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Aug 24, 2017
    By Wera Hobhouse

    Quarterly housebuilding statistics released today by the Department of Communities and Local Government show that just 40,310 were built in the last quarter

    They should not be rejoicing when there are still only roughly half the number of homes needed each year actually being built.

    There are still millions of people stuck on housing waiting lists or desperately trying to get on the housing ladder, who feel utterly ignored.

    The housing crisis will simply not be solved at this rate of building, the Government must get its hands dirty and intervene in our broken housing market.

  • Grenfell Tower
    Article: Aug 15, 2017
    By Wera Hobhouse

    Today's news that the Grenfell inquiry will not look into broader questions of social housing policy is a wasted opportunity.

    Disappointingly, the inquiry will only look into the actions of Kensington and Chelsea Council in the run up to the tragedy.

    This inquiry must fully consult the survivors of this terrible tragedy and get to the bottom of why their concerns were not acted upon.