Tag Archives: housing

Clegg announces three new garden cities to be built

Nick Clegg Q&A York Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe BBC reports:

Up to three garden cities, each with more than 15,000 homes will be built to help deal with a “chronic” housing shortage, Nick Clegg has announced. The deputy prime minister promised “high-quality homes in thriving new communities”, on potential sites yet to be identified.

Funding from an existing £2.4bn pot will be made available for developments being built up to 2020. Councils will be asked to raise any concerns over the schemes.

Last year 109,370 new homes were completed in England, …

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Opinion: Don’t close spare room subsidy loophole – just yet

In January, it was revealed that there was a loophole in the Government’s welfare reforms. The loophole relates to those people claiming Housing Benefit whilst in the same property for at least the past 17 years.

The government have indicated they will reverse this loophole as soon as possible. Reports suggest legislation will be brought forward in March.

I would call on the government to hold on closing this loophole until the independent review, ordered by Nick Clegg, has reported back on the implications of the spare bedroom subsidy.

I base this on my own experiences. Although I lost my seat in May

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Opinion: Tackling Britain’s housing crisis

Terraced housingLiberal Democrats have long recognised the housing crisis that has grown steadily worse since the 1979 Conservative Government stopped councils building new homes.  In Government, Liberal Democrats have made a good start at increasing the number of affordable homes built for rent, with 335,000 homes to be completed between 2011 and 2018, and supported initiatives to help deliver market housing.

We’ve also agreed an ambitious target of 300,000 new homes each year for overall housing supply as party policy.  But even with some councils starting to build again, there is a long way to go before anywhere near enough homes are built each year in Britain to meet need. 

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Farron: Tories are “nimby” over garden cities

From today’s Telegraph:

A secret Whitehall report recommending that two new cities are built in southern England to combat the housing shortage is being suppressed by David Cameron, The Telegraph can disclose.

The document was drawn up after the Prime Minister gave a speech supporting the idea nearly two years ago. It was described this week by Nick Clegg, his deputy, as a “prospectus” for future developments.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Why has the plight of the overcrowded and the homeless not been prioritised?

In a hard-hitting article in today’s Guardian, Tim Farron hits out at David Cameron’s “lack of humanity in face of basic need” on housing while outlining what Liberal Democrats want to see done to make sure that there are enough affordable houses for people.

He outlines the scale of the problem first:

The real divide in modern Britain is not between strivers and shirkers, but between those who were lucky enough to buy homes before 1997 and those who were not. Unless we tackle the housing crisis, homelessness is going to become a mainstream problem. Working families can’t afford to buy, and

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Opinion: It’s time to say Yes to Homes

Britain is in the grip of a housing crisis. There are 1.8m households on waiting lists for affordable homes, totalling over 4.5m people. Millions of young people are priced out of the housing market, unlikely to ever be able to afford to buy their own home. Poor quality, overcrowded accommodation impacts significantly on the health and well-being of its residents. It is undoubtedly one of the great social crises of my generation.

Yet for all the statistics, case studies and figures there are two that really stand out – 98,280 and 240,000. The first is the number of new homes built last …

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Delivering affordable homes and new jobs in London

Affordable Homes for LondonLast month house prices in London rose by 10 per cent – yes you read that correctly. Yet affordable homes, not over-inflated house prices, are what we need.

For an overseas investor in London’s housing market – and there are many – the price rises are wonderful news. They will be equally welcome by someone who has cleared their mortgage and is looking to sell up and move out of the capital. However, for most people who live in the capital or plan to move to the capital, such price rises are far from welcome.

It is not sustainable for people to ‘earn’ far more from rising house prices than working. As Vince Cable has rightly said these soaring house prices in London as “dangerous and unsustainable”. Vince is also right to express his misgivings about the Help to Buy scheme, which will almost certainly contribute to the over-inflated housing market in London and the South East.

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Stephen Williams MP writes… Making self build accessible

Houses being builtI was honoured to be appointed as Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister in the recent reshuffle. As a former councillor and passionate advocate of localism, I am excited to take up my post in the Department for Communities and Local Government and hope to continue the good work of my predecessors Don Foster and Andrew Stunell.

At last month’s autumn conference in Glasgow, Don announced measures to open up the self build market to those on lower incomes.

 

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The 17th Tory policy Lib Dems have blocked: Clegg rejects Theresa May’s plans to impose new immigration regulations on private landlords

Perhaps the silliest proposal in a generally thread-bare Queen’s Speech in May was the Conservatives’ plan to ‘look busy’ on immigration.

Yes, the party that claims to want to cut back red-tape for small businesses decided to try and tie-up private landlords in it by imposing a legal duty on them check the immigration status of new tenants and lodgers. It’s an, erm, interesting approach to regulation, I guess: out-sourcing it to people who’ll have no way of validating the information they’re given.

However, the Tories’ grand plans have been scuppered thanks to the Lib Dems, as The Guardian …

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Danny Alexander writes… A good home should not be a luxury for the few, but an achievable aspiration for the many

Across the UK tens of thousands of aspiring homeowners find themselves in the same situation. They have steady jobs, reasonable incomes, but for them the dream of owning their own home is currently just that-a dream. It’s made even worse by the fact that they can afford the mortgage repayments on a new home.

The one thing holding them back is the cost of a big deposit. And without parents wealthy enough to give them a helping hand these aspiring homeowners will continue to be excluded from the property ladder. I don’t think our housing market should be shut off …

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Does any Lib Dem except Danny Alexander support the Coalition’s ‘Help to Buy’ house price inflation scheme?

I missed it yesterday, but have just caught up with Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander’s (rather flailing) attempts on BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme to justify the second stage of the Coalition’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme for folk wanting to buy their own house. You can listen to it here or below.

There are two stages to ‘Help to Buy’. The first, announced by George Osborne earlier this year, offered anyone purchasing a newly built home costing less than £600,000 the opportunity to apply for a 20% government-guaranteed loan with just a 5% deposit. The Economist explains the rationale:

The basic economic thrust makes sense. Rental rates are high in Britain, meaning punishing payments to landlords. Given that a mortgage can be cheaper, wider home ownership could put more disposable cash in Britons’ wallets. In an economy where private consumption accounts for four-fifths of spending cutting housing costs in this way is likely to boost GDP. And since this part of Help to Buy is tied to building, it should work even if the new nests end up in the hands of buy-to-let landlords: a bigger housing stock should drive down rents, and provide jobs for the workers that build them.

The big problem comes with the second stage of ‘Help to Buy’, which breaks the explicit link with new-build housing. From this month, pre-owned property also qualifies. If widely taken up, it will stoke demand among eligible buyers but do nothing to increase supply: a recipe for house price inflation in many areas, especially London and the south-east. That will be good for the equity of home-owners like me, but rubbish for those not yet on the housing ladder who find themselves once again priced out of the market. Here’s The Economist again:

The prospect is unnerving, especially since the new part of the scheme may well distort banks’ incentives by driving a wedge between what they lend and the risks they face. With the housing market already rampant in London—up 20% annually in the trendiest parts of the city—and pepping up in the rest of the country too, Help to Buy is adding heat to a market that does not need it.

The Coalition appears to be banking on the winners from the scheme being happier and more numerous than the losers. Depressingly, there’s a chance they’re right. After all, Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ did serious damage to the country’s social housing stock, but was (unsurprisingly) highly popular with those it helped. That said, the latest polling on ‘Help to Buy from YouGov suggests the public, post-credit crunch, is more alert to the dangers of house price inflation than it was: by 58% to 17%, voters reckon the new scheme risks creating a housing bubble.

Danny thinks it’s all worth the risk: “Our housing market has to be opened to a wider range of people,” he says. Don’t we all? The way to do that, though, is by increasing housing supply, not by the kind of blatant market-manipulation the Coalition (rightly) slams Ed Miliband for when he makes similarly ill-thought through promises to fix energy prices.


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The Independent View: The Lib Dems can – and should – be the Party of the Entrepreneurs

Every party claims, in some way, to be on the side of small business, but none has really given new and potential businesses much time or attention. Firms that do not yet exist are much less easy to champion and harder still to help than existing small businesses, but they are no less important.

It may be no wonder, then, that not one of the three main party leaders mentioned entrepreneurs in their Autumn conference speeches. That’s why today we at the Adam Smith Institute are helping to launch The Entrepreneurs Network, a new think tank dedicated to giving …

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“Mr Sprawl” Miliband abandons localism – but will he deliver good housing?

Ravilous Labour New TownsSomething big needs saying about housing. I guess Ed Miliband thinks he has achieved it. Maybe, but when I read his speech it struck me as bluster and a recipe for chaos, peppered with some rather cute ideas.

We need new homes. We also need good planning. The success or failure of new towns, urban extensions and housing estates depends on location, fortune, ambition and leadership. But above all those towns that work are a triumph of planning.

For every housing scheme that has been an outstanding success, another has failed. For every booming new town like Milton Keynes or Welwyn Garden City, there is a Cumbernauld or Corby.

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Conference: Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs?

Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs? That and other questions that will get an answer, one way or another, when our Conference debates the economy today (Monday). One of the two amendments tabled by the Social Liberal Forum with support from 100 Conference representatives calls for the Coalition to commence the dramatic increase in housebuilding that the Party endorsed last year.

The barriers to this at present are, as ever, in the housebuilding industry and the Treasury.

The former has by most estimates some 400,000 planning consents at its disposal, assisted by policies that effectively waived the lapsing …

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Conference: There is an urgent need for more social housing

Lord Shipley gives some of the background to Amendment 2 to the Economy Motion. 

A year ago our Party committed itself to building up to 300,000 new homes a year. The proposals were outlined in the housing policy paper Decent Homes for All. The aim was to achieve this by supporting private investment and by giving greater powers to local councils and social landlords.

A shortage of homes has made it extremely difficult for young people to buy their own home. Rents continue to rise to unaffordable levels for many and 500,000 people in work now receive housing benefit because …

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Opinion: Vince Cable is right to question the wisdom of Help-to-Buy

Rocks Green LudlowAll policies have winners and losers. The inevitable consequence of policy-making is that some people in the country must lose out; it is the Government who must decide who this will be when they are passing laws. Which is why, on the surface, few scrutinised George Osborne’s help-to-buy scheme when it was introduced in the form of an Equity Loan in April of this year. The idea of giving people help to buy new build homes is one that has no immediate losers. But in the long run, we will all pay the price.

The housing market has crashed before, and it will crash again if house prices go back the days of increasing at an alarming rate. It is not a sustainable model and it is one that contributed heavily to the UK staying in recession for longer than most. The worrying thing is that Osborne is ignoring this recent history for short-term political gain. Booming house prices are frequently reported in the media as being ‘healthy’, whereas the reality is anything but. The reality is mortgages that will take a lifetime to pay off, placing a huge burden of debt on an entire generation.

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“Yes to New Homes” – time to cure the housing deficit disease

Housing completions by tenureWe used to be good at housebuilding. As the economy recovered after the Second World War, house building in England grew to reach a peak of around 352,000 in 1968. That level of housebuilding seems inconceivable now.

The ugly truth is that we have not been building enough houses to cope with our growing population and shrinking household sizes since the late 1970s. We need something like 250,000 new homes a year, yet we are barely building more than 100,000.

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LibLink…Tim Farron: From Whitehall to the Town Hall, why we must say Yes to Homes

This week the National Housing Federation is running a Yes to Homes week to encourage councillors to allow more homes to be built within their areas. From their website:

Just a small handful of people can block the new homes that are a lifeline for many. When they are the only people putting pressure on local politicians their views are heard loud and clear.

All too often the people who actually need homes are missing from local debates. That’s why we have launched the Yes to Homes campaign. We want to make sure people who do support more housing are included

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Lessons of Coalition (12): what do the Lib Dems need to learn from the first 3 years?

ldv coalition lessonsLibDemVoice is running a daily feature, ‘Lessons of Coalition’, to assess the major do’s and don’ts learned from our experience of the first 3 years in government. Reader contributions are welcome, either as comments or posts. The word limit is no more than 450 words, and please focus on just one lesson you think the party needs to learn. Simply email your submission to [email protected] Today Patrick Murray shares his thoughts.

Make sure our policies are reflected in our manifesto

One of the great challenges facing our society is the housing …

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Vince Cable’s concerns about Help to Buy

Vince Cable - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsOn the Andrew Marr Show yesterday Vince Cable expressed concerns about the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. He claims that the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme could inflate the market, leading to another housing bubble.

Under Help to Buy, launched earlier this year, anyone purchasing a newly built home costing less that £600,000 will be able to apply for a 20% government guaranteed loan with just a 5% deposit. This is clearly intended to boost the housing market and to create new jobs in the …

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Vince Cable: “Go home” poster vans “stupid and offensive”

Those of you who have not been willing to take the word of senior Liberal Democrat sources on those notorious poster vans, and have been waiting for a minister to say something will not be disappointed by Vince Cable’s comments on today’s Andrew Marr show:

It’s stupid, as Trevor Phillips said, the idea that illegal immigrants have got a sophisticated grasp of English, read at a distance and I think it is offensive. It is designed, apparently to create a sense of fear within the British population that we have a vast problem with illegal immigration. We have a problem, but

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Opinion: Time to take the politics out of housing

We need an Office of Housing Responsibility to take politics out of housing.

Planning minister, Nick Boles said on 17 July 2013.

Every government member will be able to campaign with pride on the Localism Act at the next election in 2015, because by 2015 it will have delivered.

Nick Boles is wrong. Localism won’t have been delivered by 2015. And it never will be until there is agreement on how to solve the housing crisis.

Localism is not being delivered because local plans are not being completed. Too many plans are being held up with by a four-way ping pong between councils, communities, …

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The Independent View: What does the Spending Review mean for UK cities?

This week’s announcements were both a preview of the coalition’s spending plans for 2015/16 and a sign of the government’s direction of travel. For cities, the spending review was mixed. Despite the Government delivering the Single Local Growth Fund devolution was fairly limited, with an emphasis on central government control rather than local autonomy, and most of the policy announcements lacked a focus on ‘place’.

Wednesday’s announcement of the Single Local Growth Fund was an important move towards greater localism, but the allocation of £2bn a year for five years was paltry compared with the £49bn over four years Heseltine …

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Danny Alexander MP writes… Investing in Britain’s future


Video by hmtreasuryuk on YouTube.

Yesterday, we set out a Spending Round that delivers Liberal Democrat priorities on investment and improving our public services while making responsible choices to deal with the financial problems Labour left us. It demonstrated that the Liberal Democrats will remain firm in our commitment to tackling the deficit, but fair in the way we go about it. Our number one priority in Government has been to fix the economic mess we inherited from Labour.

Today I have set out how we will invest in our country’s economic future by creating balanced growth and delivering lasting prosperity. I have announced the most comprehensive, ambitious and long-lasting capital investment plans this country has ever known.
In doing so we are putting long term priorities before short term political pressures and we are ending the culture of short-termism that plagued so many of our predecessors.

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Opinion: Feeling at home with housing policy

With the general election less than two years away, it is increasingly important for the Lib Dems to pursue ‘differentiation’ from our coalition partners. This includes advancing clear and specific Lib Dem proposals that we will seek to deliver this side of the election. But we should also start highlighting priorities which will form the basis of our pitch to the electorate in 2015.

The emerging agenda includes support for wealth taxes, defence of EU membership and the protection of civil liberties. These issues are as important as ever, but at this stage our platform seems light on ‘social liberalism’ and …

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Don Foster MP writes… Local communities say ‘Yes’ to locally-led housebuilding

Amid all the excitement of the local elections, two results of polls on the same day may have passed you by. While in many parts of the country voters were electing local councillors, in Thame in Oxfordshire and in the St.James area of Exeter voters were deciding whether to accept or reject locally developed Neighbourhood Plans.

Like many Liberal Democrats I was anxious to see how well we did in the council elections. But as Minister with responsibility for “localism”, I was also keeping a close eye on these Neighbourhood Plan referenda.

After all Neighbourhood Planning is part of …

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Large supermarkets are hoarding good housing land

tesco-siteA large site which has been earmarked by a council for residential housing, but owned by a major supermarket chain, has been lying derelict for 11 years. At a time of pressing housing need, this is a scandal.

Perhaps you know of similar cases to my story. If so, share them in the comments. Does anyone know how much land is being hoarded in this way?

In 2002 Tesco bought a redundant Ministry of Defence site in Tolworth, which lies within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, in the southwest corner of Greater …

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Margaret Thatcher, the 1983 election and the ‘bedroom tax’

margaret-thatcherLike Caron, I spent more than a healthy amount of my Bank Holiday Monday watching BBC Parliament’s re-run of the 1983 general election.

It’s not an election I remember (I was 6). But the symmetry of yesterday’s hyperbolic Guardian (‘The day Britain changed’) front page and the televised reminder of Margaret Thatcher’s first landslide seemed calculated to confirm the left’s view that 1st April 2013 marked the ultimate victory of those on the right who wanted (and still want) to destruct the welfare state.

What Mrs T, Geoffrey Howe …

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Don Foster MP writes… Housing at the heart of the Budget

House building fell dramatically following the financial crisis and hasn’t yet fully recovered. Last year 118,900 new homes were built in England. But with the number of households predicted to grow by 232,000 a year for the next 20 years and thousands currently unable to get onto the housing ladder, we need to build more than double that each year to keep up with demand, but we also need to tackle the sluggish housing market. That’s why housing was at the heart of the Budget yesterday, with more help for first time buyers and more money for affordable homes.

The …

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Opinion: The ‘Bedroom Tax’ does not pass the Fairer Society test

The leadership’s positioning over secret courts has angered many of the party faithful over the past week, but for me the major disappointment  has been our uncritical support of the Tory inspired ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ policy or how I think more accurately describes it – the ‘bedroom tax’.  Our leader Nick Clegg used the provocative ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ term in a Q&A session at last week’s Spring Conference, and it has been repeated by senior Lib Dems including Mike German on Newsnight in the days following.

The policy, which is part of the government’s welfare reform package, will cut the amount …

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