Author Archives: Andrew Stunell MP

Andrew Stunell MP writes…Keep free EU movement and end the dodges

I signed up to the ‘European project’ a decade before I joined the Liberals. It was an instinctive reaction to working on refugee resettlement schemes in Germany and Austria. Even in the early ’60s there were still a million “displaced persons” living in camps in western Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. That should remain a stark reminder to complacent euro-sceptics that spending time grizzling about straight bananas risks a lot more than a million or two British jobs and our country’s shrinkage to a world micro power. That’s what makes being the Party of “In” a …

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Andrew Stunell writes … Removing discrimination from electoral campaigns

Ballot paperLast week the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct published its recommendations. The Liberal Democrats played a leading part in this inquiry and we are pleased to report that our approach to tackling discrimination is rightly credited in the findings of the all-party panel.

Electoral campaigning in Britain is, the Inquiry found, generally a positive and democratically enriching process. There are however a number of areas in which better frameworks for action could be introduced which would make Britain not just a responsible democracy but one that is world-leading in facing down discriminatory electoral conduct.

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Andrew Stunell writes: Empty homes – the Lib Dem success story

As avid readers of Lib Dem Voice will know, tackling the scourge of empty homes has been high up my agenda since entering government. Empty Homes bring down communities, and doing something to tackle this growing problem was one of our big housing “asks” in the coalition negotiations. Previous governments hadn’t paid empty homes much heed at all, with the numbers left to soar, peaking in 2008 at 783,000. Labour’s failed Pathfinder scheme had set out to demolish thousands of homes, but ran out of cash, leaving some families marooned on what had become “ghost streets”. I was determined that this government was going to be different.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

Andrew Stunell MP writes… Launching the Liberal Democrats’ local election campaign

Local Election Day is now exactly a month away for most of Metropolitan England as well as across the whole of Scotland and Wales. Nick Clegg was in my own area of Stockport earlier today to officially launch the Liberal Democrat local election campaign, visiting a local business and speaking with councillors, business owners and local people.

I’ve no doubt that many of you have been out on the doorstep over the last few months, talking to people and showing them what we are achieving both nationally and locally.

You will already have your big messages in place. Number one has got …

Posted in Local government | Tagged , , , , , and | 8 Comments

The Local Government Slot: Coalition boost to English Language funding

Going down the road to the Post Office, the supermarket, or just chatting at the school gates are things we take for granted in our everyday life. But they are only really possible because we have a shared language – English – that enables us to communicate what we want effectively. That’s not true for everyone, though.  And if you speak no, or very little, English, it’s not just your social life that’s cramped.  You can’t help the children with their homework, and you’ll find it very hard to get a proper job. A high proportion of the people who …

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Andrew Stunell MP writes… “Creating the Conditions” – the Coalition’s Approach to Integration

Today I was delighted to launch the long awaited Integration Strategy “Creating the Conditions” – the Coalition’s blueprint for improving community cohesion and developing neighbourhoods and communities across the country. Last summer’s riots gave a severe jolt to any thought that social alienation was a thing of the past. Couple that with the tide of marches and demonstrations by the far-right English Defence League and it is clear there are still enduring problems of cohesion and integration in communities up and down the land. If we fail to tackle those problems we not only face more flash points, we will …

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Andrew Stunell MP writes… The Building Regulations: Taking the next step towards zero carbon homes

As some of you may know from my previous postings, one of my responsibilities in Government is the Building Regulations. So far, so dull, right? On the face of it, you might be forgiven for thinking so, but the building regulations offer a number of key tools and levers to tackle the carbon emissions produced from our buildings. Yesterday, I announced a Government Consultation on the latest proposals for upgrading the building regulations, and they contain a number of key proposals to significantly improve the sustainability of our built environment.

The upgrading of the building regulations

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Andrew Stunell MP writes… Tackling empty homes is shaping up to be a Coalition success story

As some of you will no doubt be aware, last week was National Empty Homes week. It managed to garner a lot more attention than normal thanks to a week of action from the Empty Homes Agency, who worked together with Channel 4 presenter George Clarke on a series of programmes that focussed on tackling the housing crisis, and in particular on empty homes.

George’s campaign is a welcome one, and comes at an important time. I regularly describe the number of empty homes we have in the UK as a national scandal. We have enough long-term vacant …

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Andrew Stunell MP writes… New Homes Bonus is rewarding communities that go for growth

Councils across England will receive a cash boost today with the provisional allocations of this year’s New Homes Bonus money being announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Now in its second year, the New Homes Bonus is proving to be a powerful incentive for local authorities to drive development and build the houses that we so desperately need.

Councils are rewarded for building new homes, and bringing empty homes back into use. Council tax on each home is matched by the Government for six years, with extra money for every affordable home.

The key things Liberal Democrats need …

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Andrew Stunell MP writes… Today’s Housing Strategy will deliver the homes and growth we need

The long-awaited Housing Strategy was announced this morning by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. It’s an important document, and it sets out the coalition’s stall on how we intend to get the housing market – and in particular housebuilding – moving again.

It’s been a long-established view that we have a housing crisis in the UK. Although new starts were almost a third higher in 2010-11 than they were in 2008-09, there were just 103,000 new build housing completions in England last year. Meanwhile the latest household projections suggest that the number of households will grow by 232,000 …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Andrew Stunell MP writes: Lib Dems should welcome localist reforms of Council Tax

Liberal Democrats have long called for reform to local government finance. No matter what alternative systems we’ve proposed, the key element has always been that the revenue was raised locally, and decisions about how to spend that money were taken locally. As you would expect of a Government with a Liberal Democrat influence, the Coalition is adopting that same approach. The consultation on the relocalisation of Business Rates has just ended, and today’s announcement by DCLG of the Technical Consultation on Council Tax contains a number of positive news stories for Liberal Democrats.

Take second homes for instance. You …

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Andrew Stunell MP writes: Re-localisation of business rates will give councils real financial freedom

Yesterday’s announcement of our plan to re-localise business rates is one of the most significant reforms announced by the Coalition so far. Ok, not as newsworthy as the phone hacking scandal, but it’s big news for local democracy nonetheless. It marks another fundamental shift from central control to local responsibility.

Under the current local government funding system, Whitehall dishes out grant allocations to councils each year based on an incomprehensible formula that is far too complex and lacking in transparency. Most of this money is funded by the business rates, collected locally, but funnelled centrally, and then reallocated. Councils are left at the whim of the formula-setter in Whitehall, and there is no incentive to promote business growth either. All you get are the extra HGVs, but none of the rates income! All this is about to change.

So what are the main things that Liberal Democrats need to know?

Posted in Local government | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Andrew Stunell MP writes: Buildings are the key to reducing carbon emissions

We risk losing our battle against climate change unless we make the built environment more sustainable. That was the message I gave the audience at a Greening our Homes seminar arranged by the Policy Exchange Think Tank yesterday. It’s a stark message, but is backed up by the facts. Around half of all the carbon emissions the UK produces each year come from buildings, with our homes contributing 27% on their own. By contrast, only 15% come from our cars, so we could reduce our carbon emissions by a greater amount with a two-thirds cut in emissions from the residential sector than by taking all our cars off the road.

Yet, when compared to sustainable transport, like electric cars, or renewable forms of energy, the built environment gets scant mention. But if we’re committed to being the greenest government ever, we need to do it in the most practical and cost-effective way we can. That means buildings.

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Andrew Stunell writes… We will have a greener, freer and fairer country than when we started

It’s less than a month to go until Election Day in England, and for the Parliamentary elections in Scotland and Wales. Many of you have been out on the doorstep, talking to people and showing them what we are achieving both nationally and locally.

You should already have your big messages in place, and number one has got to be your local record of service – all year round, not just at election time.

But what about the coalition? I’ve been making visits to Lib Dem council groups up and down the country (Stoke, Warrington, Newcastle and Redcar in just the last …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

Andrew Stunell writes… Localism Bill and finance settlement are defining moment for local government

Yesterday was an important day in local government as I and my ministerial colleagues were able to announce the two big planks of our approach to local government over the coming years – the Local Government Finance Settlement and the Localism Bill. They are huge milestones in the Coalition’s programme of reform, and will impact on councils in many important ways.

The Local Government Finance Settlement was always going to be difficult. Cuts have to be made across all areas of government spending, and local government is no different. My top priority in this area has been to ensure that the …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Tagged | 23 Comments

Andrew Stunell MP Writes: Your Chance to Influence Coalition’s Housing Policy

There have been plenty of Housing posts on Lib Dem Voice over the past few months. Social and affordable housing is rightly a hot issue and has been the subject of much debate. I have been keen to get stuck in myself, so I’ve had face-to-face meetings with party members, conference calls with my local government colleagues, and been online in this forum, all aimed at us having an informed and full dialogue.

The next step of that begins today with the Coalition Government’s Social Housing Consultation paper, which I launched this morning.

So far a lot of the housing …

Posted in News | Tagged | 23 Comments

Andrew Stunell writes… Myth-busting: what the Coalition’s plans for houses really mean

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about the Coalition’s plans for social housing. Much has been written, and most of it has been wrong, as illustrated by Dominic Curran’s piece on Lib Dem Voice yesterday. This piece is intended to explain what we are actually doing, rather than what the Labour party, and their friends in the media want you to think we’re doing.

Firstly, we will be increasing social housing supply by more each year than Labour achieved in thirteen years added together.  That’s because Labour sold off almost as many houses as …

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Andrew Stunell writes…Open Government is Better Government

Earlier in the year, my colleague Eric Pickles announced that local authorities would be required to publish details of all of their spending above £500. This reform will go hand in hand with a requirement from November for central government departments to publish monthly details of all spending over £25,000. The Department for Communities and Local Government, however, have decided to go one better, and join our local government colleagues and publish everything over £500.

Why is this important, I hear you ask? Won’t it just provide the opposition, and for that matter, organisations like the Tax Payers Alliance with greater …

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Opinion: Big Society is a Big Opportunity for Liberal Democrats

I write this having just got back from a very successful Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool. Everyone seemed to be in good heart, and keen to see what a Liberal Democrat government minister really looked like. Conference is a great occasion to talk and listen to activists directly, and so I really got stuck in. On more than one occasion I was “doing a Simon Hughes” and trying to attend multiple meetings at once! But, though we covered a diverse range of topics, there were two recurring themes – localism and the Big Society.

Localism shouldn’t need any explanation for Liberal …

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Andrew Stunell at the Local Government Association conference: putting our ideas into practice

Three months ago, if I had said that the Liberal Democrats would be in government, and I’d be a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, you would have laughed at me. Yet here we are. I’ve fought no less than eight general elections and at the first seven, all we did was tell people what the Liberal Democrats would do if we got into power. This time we get to show them instead.

And with the Local Government Association Conference coming up this week, our priorities on local government will get their turn in the spotlight.

In …

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Opinion: Homes for All, starting now

Everywhere you look, housing, that most basic of necessities, is in crisis. Having a safe and stable home is crucial for a child’s development and the welfare of any person, of any age. Yet in the world’s fourth largest economy, after 10 years of a Labour government, there are 95,000 homeless families and the number waiting for their own home on the social housing register has risen by 60%!

Liberal Democrats believe that every family should live in an affordable home. Meeting these current and future housing needs will mean building far more affordable houses each year than the Government has …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | 7 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 25th Apr - 2:41am
    Matthew, I think we need to remember that in Gladstone's day the British East-India company was the largest global corporation in history, accounting for half...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 25th Apr - 12:40am
    @jedibeeftrix. Have you really descended to this? Your comments always used to be interesting and challenging!
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 25th Apr - 12:37am
    There'll always be crises. It's a fact of life. Politics is the art of managing them and learning from them, and learning is what is...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 25th Apr - 12:23am
    Matthew Huntbach, If you read very carefully, you will find that Alex Marsh did not write a "flood of propaganda which insists that the pre-merger...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 25th Apr - 12:06am
    the article, and the degree of division in the comments makes me lol. but at least the division represents a degree of sanity returning to...
  • User AvatarRay 24th Apr - 11:54pm
    There should be no bullying down to the "normal and harmless" homosexuality.
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